A man has been jailed for three years after admitting grooming and engaging in sexual activity with a Weymouth teenage girl he had met online.

Joshua McLoughlin, 24 and of Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire, was sentenced at Bournemouth Crown Court on Friday 28 January 2022 after pleading guilty at a previous hearing to grooming a child, meeting a child following sexual grooming, sexual communication with a child, sexual activity with a child and possessing indecent images of a child. He was also made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for an indefinite period and places on the sex offenders’ register.

The victim, who was aged 14 at the time of the offences, contacted McLoughlin in September 2020 after randomly adding him and one of his friends on Snapchat. She had never met either men.

She told McLoughlin she was 14 and he replied that he was 23, worked in the military and couldn’t talk to her because of her age. However, the following day he contacted the victim via Snapchat. The conversation continued for several weeks and the content moved to a sexual nature.

McLoughlin asked the victim for sexually explicit images of her and sent some of himself in return. He told the victim he loved her. 

On Friday 11 December 2020 McLoughlin arranged to meet the victim at a hotel in Weymouth and they had sex on a number of occasions. McLoughlin filmed one incident without the victim’s knowledge or consent. He later sent the video and some other indecent images to the victim’s phone.

The victim’s family found out about McLoughlin on around Friday 15 January 2021 and they called him. During a 40-minute phone call McLoughlin admitted he had sex with the girl despite knowing she was aged 14.

He was subsequently arrested and charged.

Detective Constable Caroline Gould, of Dorset Police’s IMPACT Child Exploitation Team, said: “Joshua McLoughlin knowingly developed a relationship online with his victim, despite her young age. He groomed her emotionally and online, sharing indecent and explicit images. He then arranged to meet up for sex. 

“Dorset Police takes sexual offending against children extremely seriously and we will do all we can to bring offenders before the court.   
“I would like to praise the bravery of the victim for supporting this investigation. 

“Finally, I would like to remind all teenagers and their parents of the dangers of talking to people they do not know online. Please talk to each other about these dangers and how young people can stay safe.”

You can find out more here: https://www.dorset.police.uk/help-advice-crime-prevention/personal-safety/yp-students/

If you have been a victim of rape or sexual assault, and you want to report directly to the police, please call 101 and ask to be put in contact with a specially-trained police officer. Always dial 999 in an emergency. Alternatively, you can contact The Shores Sexual Assault Referral Centre on 0800 970 9954.

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