Harpenden sex image groomer escapes jail term

Scales of Justice at The Old Bailey

Scales of Justice at The Old Bailey - Credit: Archant

A Harpenden man who groomed young girls in online chat rooms to obtain indecent images has escaped a jail term.

Mohammed Hussain, of Longfield Road, was found in possession of over 20 indecent photographs of children, and on Friday was sentenced to a community order and banned from owning a device capable of holding images.

Hussain was arrested in July 2012 after police officers launched an investigation and attended his property to search his phone.

The 24-year-old had been chatting to a number of teenage girls aged 13 to 16 on online chat rooms and been requesting images which were found on his email account and smart phones.

Appearing at St Albans Magistrates Court, Hussain, who had previously pleaded guilty to the offence in October, was sentenced to a three year supervised community order and treatment programme.

Between June 28, 2010, and June 24, 2012, the restaurant worker made four level one images of children, one level four image, and was in possession of 20 level one images. The level of seriousness goes from level one up to five.

The court heard that after serving a previous custodial sentence for sexual activity with a child, Hussain took on two jobs and began studying at college.

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Mitigating, his solicitor Sohail Bashir said: “He is a man that has made some change to his life and somebody who has not returned to reoffending.”

But District Judge Mary Connelly, sentencing, said a probation officer had suggested concern with Hussain’s difficulty to understand his offending and decided to make a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO), banning him from owning any device capable of storing images, or capable of accessing the internet unless it could show the browsing history.

The judge said: “I can only make one if I’m satisfied that it’s necessary to protect the public with concerns to sexual harm, and the way that you obtained these images amounts as what is referred to as grooming, and from looking at your report that does concern me.”

Hussain is also forbidden from deleting his computer’s history, must surrender any devices to the police on request, and has been placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years.