Diss man who sexually assaulted a teenager he groomed over the internet jailed for eight years

Michael Berkley-Matthews. PIC: Submitted. Michael Berkley-Matthews. PIC: Submitted.

Monday, August 4, 2014
4:40 PM

A man who sexually assaulted a teenager he had groomed over the internet has been jailed for a total of eight years.

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An investigation was launched into Michael Berkley-Matthews after concerns were raised over the victim’s interest in a magic club.

Enquiries revealed the victim had been befriended by the 46-year-old, of Friars Meadow, Weybread, Diss, after meeting him online via a social networking site.

The victim had an interest in magic and claimed he had been promised potential subscription to a secret magic club by Berkley-Matthews, who the victim knew as ‘Mike’.

The online contact led to a number of meetings in Diss where, on one occasion, on December 19 last year, the victim was sexually assaulted.

Berkley-Matthews was arrested at his home on Tuesday, January 14 this year.

Judge Nicholas Coleman also ordered that Berkley-Matthews be placed on the sex offenders register for life after being sentenced today at Norwich Crown Court.

Berkley-Matthews had been convicted by a jury on Tuesday, June 24 of sexual activity with a child meeting a child following grooming and breach of a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO).

Detective Constable Gill Lacey said the incident had left the victim feeling traumatised by what had happened to him.

“The incident has had a profound impact on a young boy who was duped into believing he could become a member of a magic group,” she said.

“Berkley-Matthews used the victim’s interest in magic to gain his trust before abusing him.

“Hopefully such a sentence will serve as a warning to other potential sex offenders that they will be brought to justice and we will support victims in every way possible.”

DC Lacey also urged parents not to be afraid of checking with their children around their use of the internet and social media.

“Many parents can feel apprehensive about being too nosey about their children’s lives particularly when they hit the teenage years,” she said.

“But this is the time when they need to adopt prying eyes and become much more mindful of the dangers the online world can bring.

“Young people can believe they are talking to someone of their own age when in fact they are often chatting to someone much older.”

Parents can visit the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre’s (CEOP) ‘Thinkuknow’ website at: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/ for more information

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