A pair of young men from south-east England have been jailed after posting video footage of them having sex with a teenage girl on the Internet.
Twenty-four-year-old defendants Connor Hayes and William Wright were found guilty of uploading 27 stills and 10 video clips online. Under UK law, the legal age of consent is 16 for both men and women.
However, while having sex with the girl - who consented - was not illegal, it was breaking the law to make or possess sexual images of her because she was under the age of 18. So this was essentially a 16 year old sex video.
Moreover, the videos and images were uploaded without her consent - which is also an offence. The girl had asked the two to delete the images and was reassured that they would be, only for the photos to resurface a year later on the internet.
The following month, Wright and Hayes were arrested, with police investigations of Wright's iPhone revealing the 10 videos and 27 clips, while an examination of a laptop used by Hayes had 18 sexually explicit images of the victim.
Hayes pleaded guilty to the charges of taking indecent moving images of a child (basically, filming), possession of indecent images of a child and paying for the sexual services of a child.
Wright, meanwhile, admitted the same offence of taking an indecent moving image of a child, intentionally obtaining for himself the sexual services of a child under the age of 18, distributing an indecent moving image of a child (the videos) and making indecent images of a child (the stills).
Credit: PA Images
As punishment for their crimes, both Hayes and Wright were sentenced to two years in prison at Bournemouth Crown Court and were also given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (or SHPO) for five years.
These orders can only be meted out when a court is satisfied that the offender presents a risk of sexual harm to the public (or particular members of the public) and that an order is necessary to protect against this risk.
Speaking about the case, Detective Constable Mandy Brimicombe of Dorset police said: "Hayes and Wright exploited their victim's vulnerability to engage in sexual acts with her.
"They knew full well that she was under the age of 18 when they published videos of her on the internet. This is a serious criminal offence. Child sexual exploitation is a crime that can affect any child, anytime, anywhere, regardless of their social or ethnic background.
"It can be carried out by individuals, by street gangs or by groups. It can be motivated by money or by sexual gratification. But in all cases, there is an imbalance of power - vulnerable children are controlled and abused by adults or by other children.
"We are determined to identify perpetrators of child sexual exploitation and bring them to justice."
Words: Ronan O'Shea