Whittlesey man groomed teenage girl on Facebook

Peterborough Crown Court.
Peterborough Crown Court.
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A married man who tried to groom a teenage girl using a social media site has been locked up for nine months.

Stephen Taaffe (56) of Cemetery Road, Whittlesey, contacted the teenager on the social networking site, asking her to send him topless pictures.

But when the girl’s mother found the messages on her daughter’s mobile phone, she contacted police.

On Friday Taaffe was jailed for nine months at a hearing at Peterborough Crown Court after pleading guilty to one count of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

The court heard the messages were all sent in a four day period, and Taaffe asked the teenager to run away with him.

Harry Snook, prosecuting, said there was no meeting after the messages were sent, and while the girl did send some pictures, none of the pictures were indecent.

The court heard how Taaffe voluntarily went to the police station where he made admissions to officers.

However, he denied he was sexually attracted to the victim, instead saying what he had been doing had meant to be a joke.

Mr Snook said the aggravating features of the case were the defendants’s grooming behaviour, and the significant difference in age.

Defending, Nenad Spasojevic said: “He (Taaffe) is a married man, and his wife is here to support him in court.
“She (Taaffe’s wife) suffers from a number of medical complaints, and there have been exacerbated during these proceedings.

“He made full factual admissions, attended the police station voluntarily, and has no previous relevant convictions.

The content of the messages is indicative of a lack of maturity, rather than being cold, calculating and something more sinister,

“He has recognised he has been a fool, a stupid fool. He said he is sick at what he has done.”

Judge Sean Enright, sentencing said Taafe had exhibited ‘a classic pattern of grooming.’

Along with the nine month prison sentence, a Sexual Harm Prevention Order was put in place banning Taaffe from contacting any girls aged under 16 using text messages or social media, and from contacting his victim.