Paedophile Jailed After Online Sting

Mark Fletcher

Operation uncovered online grooming

A paedophile from Cardiff who was arrested by police during a sting operation which uncovered his online grooming, has been jailed.

Mark Fletcher, 32, from Roath, was arrested as he arrived by coach to Birmingham, where he had arranged to meet a 14 year-old girl who he had groomed using social media.

Police were alerted by a concerned parent who suspected that her teenage daughter had been conversing with an unknown man using Twitter.

Operation Grey Elm was launched as officers posed online as the 14 year-old girl for three weeks before a meet was arranged in Birmingham. They were waiting for him as he disembarked a coach and took him into custody. He was in possession of condoms, women's lingerie and girls' clothing.

Other evidence which pointed to Mark Fletcher having a concerning interest in children was discovered at his home following a police search.

He was jailed for 42 months at Cardiff Crown Court on Thursday, 20 April, 2017, after pleading guilty to offences of grooming and Inciting a child to commit a sexual act. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender for life and upon release his use of the internet will be restricted under a risk of sexual harm order.

Detective Inspector Dan Michel, said: "Sadly, the internet is a place which paeodophiles will scour for vulnerable victims and they will use the most popular social media channels to begin a grooming process which can last for days and even months.

"In this instance, a mum acted quickly to raise her suspicions with us which meant that we could take action to not only safeguard the victim, but also to catch Mark Fletcher in the act.

"I commend her for this and urge others to investigate further if they feel their child is displaying unusual behaviour and to contact us."

Parents who are concerned that their child is being groomed online should contact South Wales Police via 101. For advice, they can also contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000.

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