An Eastbourne man has been jailed for five years for sexual offences involving three young girls.
Police say Matthew Walke befriended each of the girls over a period of time, gradually pressuring them into sexual exchanges online.
Walke, 26, unemployed, of Eskdale Close, was sentenced at Hove Crown Court on Friday (April 6), having pleaded guilty at a previous hearing to a count of causing or inciting a girl below the age of 16 to engage in sexual activity on multiple occasions, and attempting to cause or incite two other girls aged younger than 16, separately, into sexual activity on multiple occasions.
Police say he also admitted two counts of possessing indecent photographs of the three girls that he had acquired from them online.
A spokesperson for Sussex Police said he was given five years for the causing or inciting offence, and two years for each of the attempts, both to run concurrently with the five-year sentence.
He was also given one month and three months for each of the indecent photograph offences, both to run concurrently with the five-year sentence.
Judge Christine Laing also gave Walke an extended licence period of three years.
He pleaded not guilty to three counts of sexual assault on another girl below the age of 16. These were not proceeded with, and were directed by the court to lay on the court file.
Walke will be a registered sex offender for life, and was also given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) to last until further court order, severely restricting his access to children and computers.
Detective Constable Julie Nightingale of the East Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit said, “Walke was clearly a predatory menace to innocent and trusting young girls, who he ensnared in a web of perverted sexual abuse.
“It came to light when the family of a girl contacted us to report concerns about Walke’s attentions towards her. When we arrested him and examined his computer and phones we found the evidence of his offending against the three girls.
“This is a reminder to all families to be on the alert at all times for attempts by often plausible predators like Walke to ingratiate themselves with young people.”
Police advice about preventing this type of offending is available here.