Sex offender who messaged girl, 14, spared jail

The NSPCC is calling for tighter rules on social media to prevent grooming Picture: Getty Images

Luke Brennan was given a three-year community order after sending explicit messages to a man posing as a 14-year-old girl on Facebook Messenger - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

A Haverhill man who tried to coerce a child into a sexual act over the internet has been given a three-year community order.

Luke Brennan, 26, appeared before Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday, January 20, after he engaged in Facebook Messenger conversations with a man posing as a 14-year-old girl in November 2018.

Further conversations with an actual 14-year-old girl were then found on his phone after it was seized by officers from Suffolk police.

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: ARCHANT

Luke Brennan was spared jail by a judge at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

Brennan had sent explicit messages to the girl – who had repeatedly given him her age – and encouraged her to do the same, again in November 2018.

He had previously pleaded guilty to three offences – attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity, attempting to cause a child to watch a sexual act, and attempting to engage a child in sexual communication.

A fourth charge of possession of indecent photographs of a child was denied by Brennan and the court ordered this to lie on file.

He was given a three-year community order for his crimes and is required to complete 150 hours of unpaid work over the next 12 months.

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He was also handed a 40-day rehabilitation activity requirement and made subject of a sexual harm prevention order for five years.

The judge sentencing him said he decided not to jail him so he can prove he can "behave normally".

Det Con Penny Howell, of the West Safeguarding Investigations Unit in Bury St Edmunds, said:  "Luke Brennan was fully aware that the person he was messaging was only 14, but this fact did not prevent him from sending sexually explicit messages, images and videos.

"This type of offending is deeply troubling and I can only hope that by bringing Brennan to justice at this point, further harm to the victim – or indeed other potential victims – has been prevented.

"In sentencing Brennan, the judge took his guilty pleas into account and accepted that he was remorseful. He did not send him to prison as wanted to give him the chance to prove he can ‘behave normally’.

"However, he will have to complete the rehabilitation activities and is subject to the five-year sexual harm prevention order.

"He was warned he must comply with these and against any breach of the order, which would result in him being brought before the court again.”