A pervert who incited a St Helens schoolgirl into sending intimate photos of herself has become one of the first paedophiles to be brought to justice via phone records from an instant messaging app.
Online predator Nicholas Daniels manipulated a 14-year-old St Helens girl into sending intimate snaps of herself after contacting her via the popular Whatsapp smartphone messaging service.
But police then traced the 30-year-old to his home in South Wales via chat messages which had been stored on the victim’s phone.
DCI Paul Unsworth said: “Paedophiles cannot hide behind the anonymity of the internet or social media to commit crimes against children and they will eventually be caught.
“Nicholas Daniels is a manipulative man who preyed on a teenage girl whilst she was at a vulnerable stage in her life. His successful prosecution shows that he did not get away with it in the end.”
Liverpool Crown Court heard how the victim’s mother started to become concerned about her daughter’s mood swings and worsening performance at school in November last year.
Then, when she checked her daughter’s phone for clues as to the catalyst, she found indecent images of her daughter.
She reported the matter to the police and the victim’s phone was examined.
Daniels was then traced via a mobile phone number located on chat messages dated between October 17 and 31, 2013, in which he had incited the victim to take and send indecent images of herself.
The suspect was arrested in January 2014 and subsequently admitted to both asking for the images and knowing that the victim was only 14.
This week he became the first sex offender to be prosecuted by the recently-formed St Helens Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Team.
Daniels, of Barry, south Wales, was handed a 14-month jail sentence - suspended for two years - and a 10-year sexual offences prevention order.
He was also ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register.
DCI Unsworth added: “The bravery of this victim has been outstanding and her evidence was absolutely crucial to the case. She found the courage to report what had happened to Merseyside Police and was then supported by us, the CPS and other agencies during an extremely difficult six-month investigation.
“Specialist police officers and lawyers have stayed by her side right through to the sentencing and beyond, ensuring she got her chance to tell a court what Daniels had done and to see justice done.
“I hope this case sends out a strong message to victims of sexual abuse, whether it is recent or historic, that if you can find the courage needed to come forward, the authorities will be there for you and ready to take action against your attacker.”