Man sentenced for series of online child sex offences

A 26-year-old man from Haverhill has been sentenced for a number of online child sex offences.

Luke Brennan appeared at Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday, January 20, where he was given a three-year community order and is required to complete 150 hours of unpaid work over the next 12 months.

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

Brennan had previously pleaded guilty to the following 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.

Brennan’s offending was first brought to the attention of police in November 2018, when he engaged in conversations on Facebook Messenger with a person he believed to be a 14-year-old girl, but was in fact an adult posing as a child.

During the conversations he sent messages of a sexual nature and Suffolk Police was contacted regarding these online exchanges, resulting in Brennan being arrested at his home address on November  29, 2018.

As a consequence of this, his phone was seized and the subsequent police investigation then found that he had been exchanging messages with an actual 14-year-old girl via WhatsApp.

These including sending explicit sexual messages and images and encouraging the victim to do the same. During these exchanges – which also took place in November 2018 – the victim mentioned a number of times that she was 14-years-old.

Detective Constable 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.”

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