Horsham man jailed after he ‘groomed’ teenage girl using WhatsApp messenger

Robert Barnes, jailed for sexual offences
Robert Barnes, jailed for sexual offences

A Horsham man has been jailed for five and a half years after he was found guilty of sexual offences against a teenage girl.

Robert Barnes, 28, was sentenced on Thursday August 20 after he was found guilty following a trial at Maidstone Crown Court last month.

A spokesperson for Kent Police said Barnes, for whom an address in Horsham was given in court, groomed his victim, who lives in Kent, through the text messaging phone app WhatsApp.

He used the phone app to send her inappropriate images of himself, and tried unsuccessfully to get her to do the same.

Barnes then used his previous home address in Sevenoaks to commit sexual offences, police said.

He was arrested at the Sevenoaks address after concerns were reported to police.

Officers seized his mobile phone which contained evidence of messages he had sent to his victim, the court heard.

Barnes was convicted of three counts of sexual activity with a child under the age of 16, two counts of intent to entice a child to engage in sexual activity and one count of grooming.

Detective Constable David Turner, of Kent Police’s public protection unit, said: “Barnes has groomed his victim with the intention of committing sexual offences against her.

“He knew exactly what he was doing and has exploited a young and vulnerable person for his own gratification.

‘‘He will now have plenty of time to reflect on his actions and I hope this sentence offers some comfort and reassurance to the victim and her family.”

He will also be placed on the sex offenders’ register.

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