Man who groomed girls online using fake profiles jailed
A man who targeted teenage girls by grooming them online using fake profiles was given a 10 year sentence when he appeared at Guildford Crown Court today (25 August).
Jordan Towers, 24, of Portugal Road, Woking, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment and a four year extended licence after pleading guilty to 21 of charges of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity; engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child; and taking and distributing indecent photographs of a child when he appeared at court on 13 July. He was also given an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order and will remain on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.
Towers was arrested in February after a 13-year-old girl from Kent reported that he had befriended her online using a fake profile and persuaded her to take indecent photographs of herself. When officers searched his mobile phone, they found more than 1,000 indecent images and he was subsequently remanded in custody.
Following a thorough review of Towers’ phone, officers identified around 60 potential victims aged between 13 and 16 years, mainly through either their phone number with associated chat logs and from images recovered which had social media user profiles.
It quickly became apparent that Towers was befriending vulnerable teenage girls via Instagram or a teenage dating app called Yellow. He paid the victims compliments to gain their trust before asking them to send photos or take part in video chat which quickly became sexual in nature. He became more persistent and once a victim refused to send any more, became aggressive and threatened to distribute the indecent images they had already sent to their friends and family unless they sent more.
Towers also used some of the images he was sent to set up profiles and pose as a teenage girl, sending these images to other victims to encourage them to send similar images back to him. Some of the victims also reported that they had been contacted by more than one of his user profiles.
The investigation, which was led by Surrey Police, involved interviewing 29 girls across the country, with officers travelling to South Wales, Bristol, Doncaster, Greater Manchester, Essex, Kent and Sussex. The evidential accounts officers obtained during the course of their investigation enabled them to charge Towers with 26 offences, 21 of which he pleaded guilty to.
Detective Inspector Martin Goodwin from Surrey Police’s Paedophile Online Investigation Team, who led the investigation, said: “The prison sentence handed to Towers today shows that the internet is not a safe or anonymous place for abusing teenage girls and highlights the work being undertaken by Surrey Police to target predatory offenders intent on using the internet to facilitate their criminal behaviour.
“Towers manipulated vulnerable teenage girls, persuading them to send indecent photos of themselves by befriending them, gaining their trust and then threatening to blackmail them when they refused. He has also used fake profiles to con his victims into believing they were talking to girls their own age. The lengths that Towers went to, to deceive and target his victims is deplorable.
“His offending has had a profoundly devastating impact on not only his victims’ lives, but also those of their families. Many of the girls we interviewed had thousands of followers on their social media accounts but did not know who many of them were, and were sending indecent photos of themselves.
“Whilst social media can be a great way of staying in contact with people, it is also used by sexual predators. Teenagers should be mindful of who they are chatting to and think before sending any images of themselves – “would my parents approve if they saw this picture of me?” If the answer is no, then you probably shouldn’t be sending it to anyone.”
DI Goodwin continued: “I hope that the outcome today is some consolation to Towers’ victims, who have shown great bravery in coming forward and speaking out.”
He added: “Surrey Police treat all allegations of abuse extremely seriously and I would encourage anyone who has concerns about a child being groomed to report it to us. By one individual coming forward in this case, we were able to uncover several connected victims. If you’re concerned please report it to us.”
For further help and advice, please go to our website https://surrey.police.uk/advice/protect-yourself-and-others/staying-safe-online/