Police arrest Facebook ‘fiend’

A GOLDEN Square man has been charged with using Facebook to groom a 13-year-old boy for sex.

The man, 42, was arrested in a police raid on his home yesterday.

He was charged with stalking the teenager and using Facebook as a carriage service to menace him over a period of six months.

The teenager was not known to the man, who allegedly befriended him on Facebook before sending him a series of sexually graphic messages.

Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team Detective Marcus Uren said the messages the man sent were disturbing and increasingly explicit.

“The messages were straight to the point, demanding sexual services,” he said.

Detective Uren said the fact the man had identified a victim living in the same city was evidence of his intentions.

“We believe the offender was trying to lead up to a point where he could arrange a meeting with the victim,” he said.

Detective Uren said it was credit to the young victim for raising the alarm and notifying police before anything further happened.

He said the issue needed to be highlighted to show other potential victims that they should alert police if they received inappropriate messages online.

“The young fellow recognised what it was and told his parents, who notified the police,” he said. “He did the right thing.”

Police were able to confirm the identity of the alleged offender yesterday before arresting him and seizing electronic items and computers from his home.

The charge of using a carriage service to menace someone carries a maximum penalty of 12 years and stalking has a maximum penalty of 15 years. Detective Uren said online grooming by sexual predators was an increasing concern for authorities.

“Facebook is probably the number one way of communicating between parties these days,” he said. “People with sinister intentions realise there are opportunities to groom vulnerable young people.

“A lot of parents are very concerned about who their children are communicating with online. We need to highlight the dangers to kids. If something comes through, they need to notify their parents.”

The 42-year-old man will face Bendigo Magistrates Court on Thursday.

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