Eastleigh man jailed for five years after being found guilty of attempting to meet a child for sex
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A man has been given a five-year prison sentence after being found guilty of numerous offences relating to sexual communication with a child.
Appearing at Southampton Crown Court on Monday 24 January 2022, Simon Patrick Westwood, aged 46, of Eastleigh was sentenced for engaging in sexual communication with a child between January 2021 and October 2021 in the Eastleigh area.
The court heard during a 9 month period how Westwood exchanged messages, often of a highly sexual nature, with children. He had also made arrangements and travelled to an agreed location to meet with the child – although in this instance the victims were not real.
Simon Westwood was charged with attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and arranging and or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence on Thursday 28 October 2021 at Southampton Crown Court.
Appearing at the same court on Monday 24 January 2022, the judge sentenced Simon Westwood to five years in prison, while ordering him to sign onto the sex offenders register – which he will remain for an indefinite period. In addition, he was made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
Following the sentencing, Detective Constable Angela Smith-Jones said: “In a day and age where social media is so prevalent in young people’s lives, and the ease in which messages can be sent by people unknown to them, it is incredibly important that we, as the police, are in a position to investigate if we believe that criminal offences have taken place during these exchanges.
“During this investigation, we have worked closely with the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU) in order to develop evidence against an individual who had every intention of meeting who they believed to be a child in order to commit sexual offences against them. Thankfully due to hard work, commitment and co-operation from officers from both Hampshire Constabulary and SEROCU, we have been able to bring an individual to justice before they could cause undue harm.
“We want to continue to protect any vulnerable people, including young children, against possible sexual exploitation and I hope that this conviction shows the lengths that we will go to investigate any such claims.
“I also hope this sentence will alert others, as well as the parents of young children, to the dangers of the digital world and also encourage any victims of child sexual abuse to come forward and speak to us, no matter when it happened.
“We take allegations of this nature extremely seriously and will always seek to bring those responsible for committing these offences to justice.
“We would encourage anyone who has been a victim of child sexual abuse to contact police on 101 where you can speak with our specialist detectives in confidence.”
Detective Inspector James Oxley, of the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU), said: “This case demonstrates the dangers individuals such as Westwood pose to children, from chatting to them online to meeting up with them in person - it is an important reminder to everyone not to become complacent about keeping children and young people safe online.
“Westwood engaged in explicit discussions online with a person he believed to be a child before arranging to meet them to commit sexual offences. By working in collaboration with Hampshire Constabulary, officers were able to carry out a thorough investigation, demonstrating the lengths we continue to go to disrupt sexual exploitation and keep children safe from harm.”
If you’re worried about a child’s behaviour, either in the real world or online, or even if you're unsure - you can speak to trained professionals who may be able to support you; as they might be at risk of child sexual exploitation.
Remind the child that even though people they’ve met online might feel like friends they may not be who they say they are. It is always worth considering reviewing what apps they are using and the parental controls and privacy settings on devices, mobile apps and social media networks that they may use too.
If you think a child is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.