A Tunbridge Wells resident who used social media apps in attempts to groom children for sex offences has been jailed.

David Smith, of Queripel Close, accessed the internet to send explicit images of himself to other users who he believed were as young as 12 years old.

Between 2019 and 2020, the 57-year-old posted under the name ‘Kent Guy’ on instant messaging apps and websites.

Dave - desktop

Smith was identified during a joint investigation by Kent Police’s Paedophile Online Investigation Team and the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit.

Hidden device

The investigation linked the profile of Kent Guy to a work email address and on 7 July 2020, a search warrant was executed at a property Smith had been living at near Sevenoaks, where a computer tablet was found hidden beneath a wardrobe.

The device was submitted for forensic analysis. Chat logs were located which illustrated Smith had been involved in explicit communications with other online profiles.

A child was identified from the logs who was 12-years-old. Smith had sent sexual images of himself to the child and also encouraged them to send indecent photos to him.

During a police interview, Smith presented a prepared statement stating he believed that he had been communicating with adults who were using fake profiles.

He was charged with attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, engaging in sexual communication with a child and two counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

Guilty

Smith pleaded guilty and was sentenced at Maidstone Crown Court on Wednesday 9 February 2022, to two years and four months’ imprisonment.

He was also made subject of a sexual harm prevention order and added to the sex offenders register, both for ten years.

Detective Constable Lee Sparks of the Paedophile Online Investigation Team said: ‘We will do everything in our power to proactively target people like Smith, who seek to commit sexual offences against children, and ensure they receive a prison sentence.’

In this case, the evidence was overwhelming. Smith’s use of abhorrent language on chat logs was accompanied with repeated demands for children to send him indecent images.

‘There was also extremely concerning evidence of tentative arrangements by Smith to meet a child to engage in sexual activity.’

By Ed

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