A JUDGE has spoken about the dangers of internet messaging services after a 12-year-old girl was groomed for sex online.
Washington man Mark Forster convinced the schoolgirl to send pictures of herself at stages of undress via MSN messenger to “improve her confidence”.
Newcastle Crown Court heard Forster, 20, confessed he had planned to have sex with the youngster if they met up.
The girl’s teacher heard about what was going on and the police were called before any meeting took place.
The court heard the messages exchanged between Forster and the girl were explicit on “both sides”.
Speaking during the sentencing hearing, Judge James Goss said: “This is, regrettably, yet another example of the facility that is now not only open to young people, but is used virtually without break to communicate with each other and engage in sometimes what is called cyber-sex, I believe, and sexting and matters such as this.”
He added: “Of course sometimes, as in this case, it is highly inappropriate by reason of the age and circumstances of the respective people.
“One of the problems is that, as a society, children get mixed messages. Society has become so sexualised now.
“In some respects they want to be treated as adults when they are children.”
Forster was 19 years old when the indecent exchanges took place.
Prosecutor Amanda Rippon, said: “The defendant told her he had an idea which was going to improve her confidence because she didn’t like her body very much.
“He proposed she take photos in various states of undress, starting fully clothed, removing items of clothing and photographing herself. She did that.”
The court heard Forster sent the girl indecent pictures of himself during the chats.
Miss Rippon added: “He accepted if they had met, which they didn’t, he was planning to have sex with her.”
Forster, of Hill Rise, Washington Village, admitted attempting to meet a girl under 16 following grooming and two charges of possessing indecent photographs of a child.
He was sentenced to a three-year community order with supervision and group work.
He must abide by the terms of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for five years and register as a sex offender for five years.
Judge Goss said he took the “exceptional” course of allowing Forster to keep his freedom.
He said he had taken such a course of action in a bid to prevent potential future offending. Andrew Finlay, defending, handed in references to Forster’s otherwise good character.