A Snodland resident who used mobile phone apps in attempts to groom a child for sex has been jailed.

Reece Cano repeatedly sought indecent images of a child he believed was only 12 years old and then arranged to meet her in order to carry out abuse.

Reece Cano

Between 19 September and 11 October 2020, Cano accessed dating and instant messaging apps to contact another user who posted as a juvenile. Despite her sending several replies stating she was only 12, he used the online exchanges to try and entice her into sexual activity and to send him illegal images.

Cano’s messages contained a series of explicit demands and included suggestions of meeting in a hotel. During October, he made preparations to meet the child at ‘a quiet location’ in the Snodland area, where he planned to abuse her.

Unbeknown to him, the child did not actually exist.

He was arrested after a search warrant was executed at his home on 11 October 2020. The search led to the discovery of a mobile phone in an airing cupboard, which provided evidence of the online conversations.

Cano was charged with two counts of attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity, attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and with arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence. He was further charged with breaching a sexual harm prevention order (which had been imposed in 2019 following previous and unrelated convictions for sex offences), and failure to comply with notification requirements.

Appearing before Maidstone Crown Court Cano pleaded guilty to all the charges.

He was sentenced on Tuesday 20 April 2021 to four years’ imprisonment, with an extended licence period of a further four years.

Cano was categorised by the court as ‘dangerous’ and will be required to serve two thirds of the sentence before he can be considered for parole. He was also made subject of a sexual harm prevention order and added to the sex offenders register indefinitely.

Kent Police Investigator Natalie Armstrong, of the West Kent Offender Management Unit said: ‘Reece Cano made persistent and repeated efforts to contact a child for the purposes of his own gratification. He has displayed a clear desire and determination to sexually abuse a child and the graphic detail he included in his messages was hugely concerning.

This case acts as a reminder to parents of children who have mobile phones and tablets to speak to them and help them understand the precautions they should take when using the internet, or the many instant messaging services that are available. Children should only communicate with people that they know personally and report any suspicions or inappropriate advances from strangers to their parents, schools or the police.’

By Ed