A man who used online chat rooms to groom and incite teenage boys into sexual activity has been sentenced to a nine-year extended sentence.
Liam George Garth, 23, of Baildon, Shipley, West Yorkshire, appeared at Bradford Crown Court today (Friday 23 October 2015) having previously pleaded guilty to five offences against two victims:
- Two counts of grooming boys aged 14 (between August 2013 and June 2014) and 15 (between April and July 2014) in an attempt meet up with them
- Facilitate the commission of a child sex offence (June 2014)
- Incite a boy aged 14 to engage in penetrative sexual activity between August 2013 and June 2014
- Incite a boy aged 14/15 to engage in non-penetrative sexual activity between April and July 2014
- Incite a boy aged 15 to engage in non-penetrative sexual activity between October 2010 and October 2011.
Garth will serve four-and-a-half years in prison and then four-and-a half years on licence when he is released. He was also given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order which will be reviewed at a later date, and placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register indefinitely.
The North Yorkshire Police investigation into Garth’s offending lasted more than a year and included victims and potential victims from North and West Yorkshire. Enquiries are on-going to identify further potential suspects and victims both nationally and internationally in connection with the case.
Detective Constable Andy Rawlings, of the Harrogate Serious Crime Team, said:
Liam Garth is an extremely manipulative individual who poses a serious risk to impressionable young people.
It is clear from our investigation that he is a sexual predator and uses various online web chats, Skype in particular, to groom, entice and threaten his victims into committing sex acts for his own gratifications.
This case is a wake-up call for parents and guardians of young people who may fall victim to criminals like Liam Garth.
The very real dangers that lurk online are here to see and it is very worrying.
If you have any concerns about your child being sexually exploited online, please call North Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.
The Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre (CEOP) also has useful support and advice on their website http://ceop.police.uk/