Web grooming case: man spared jail term

A 21-year-old man who met two girls at a Yarmouth hotel after contacting them on the internet was spared prison yesterday.

A 21-year-old man who met two girls at a Yarmouth hotel after contacting them on the internet was spared prison yesterday.

Jason Cousins, of Western Road, Crow-borough, East Sussex, was given a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, after he earlier admitted two offences of grooming the girls and two charges of making indecent photographs of a child.

Judge Peter Jacobs, sitting at Norwich Crown Court, told Cousins that such offences usually resulted in custody but this “would not achieve anything” and he needed to go on a sex offender course available outside of prison.

Jonathan Seely, prosecuting, said the girls had been contacted on the internet and via text message from February last year. Cousins met the victims in Yarmouth on March 24, 2006, after text messages which read “do you want a double bed?” and “have you slept with a grown-up?”.

Mr Seely said the girls had spent part of the day with him and he had managed to lure one of them to his room but she left when he tried to kiss her. The other girl had declined to go to the room when he said he had a present for her.

The girls' parents contacted police and Cousins' computer was seized and the indecent pictures found.

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When arrested, Cousins said he thought the girls were 15 or 16, met them as friends and had no sexual intention towards them.

Charles Royle, mitigating, said his client was of previous good character but had been “tremendously stupid”.

The judge told Cousins: “Your behaviour was absolutely appalling. Because of your actions, your victims, their parents and your parents have suffered.

“There was a lot of scheming and you knew they were under-age and you did not go to Yarmouth for a kiss and a cuddle.

“Let's get with the real world: if more had been offered, you would have taken it.”

Cousins was also given a three-year supervision order, under which he must attend a sex offender programme, and was ordered to do 280 hours of unpaid work.

He was also told to pay each family £2,000 compensation for the “physical and emotional effects” and the loss of their computers used in the police investigation.

He has been put on the sex offender register for 10 years, banned from working with children indefinitely and given a sex offender prevention order, under which he must not contact under-16s by phone or via the internet or e-mail.

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