Paedophile escapes immediate jail sentence after being found guilty of exchanging highly sexual messages with a 13-year-old

A 60-YEAR-OLD paedophile has been given a suspended sentence after exchanging sexual messages with what he believed was a 13-year-old girl.

Friday, 10th June 2022, 4:16 pm

Mark Anthony Mengham, of Alfred Close in Totton, was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years after being found guilty of numerous offences relating to sexual communication with a child.

The court heard Mengham exchanged messages between December 2020 and January 2021, often of a highly sexual nature, with a child who had repeatedly stated they were 13 – although in this instance the victim was not real.

Mengham was arrested on January 15, 2021 and later charged with attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, attempting to cause or incite a female child under-13 to engage in non-penetrative sexual activity and attempting to cause a child aged 13-to-15 to view images of sexual activity.

Southampton Crown Court

Following his appearance at Southampton Crown Court, Mengham was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for five years, comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for five years and complete 40 rehabilitation activity requirement days. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge and court costs.

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Following the sentencing, Detective Constable Paul Hills said: ‘In a world where people have the ability to exchange messages through a variety of social platforms with people across the country unknown to them, and further afield, with relative ease, it is vitally important that we, as the police, are in a position to investigate if we believe that criminal offences have taken place during these exchanges.

‘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.

‘We hope that today’s sentencing highlights the dangers that can be lurking on social media when engaging in people you do not know. This case serves as a reminder, and to also alert the parents of young children, that the digital world isn’t it all it seems and that people may be seemingly acting innocently in exchanging messages initially, but that this can very quickly change, taking a turn to often dark, often sexualised, conversations and messages.

‘We want to encourage any victims of child sexual abuse to come forward and speak to us, no matter when it happened.

‘Hampshire Constabulary 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.”

:: 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 children that even though people they’ve met online might feel like friends they may not be who they say they are.

:: If you think a child is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.

:: You can also contact the Lucy Faithfull Foundation for anonymous support and can use the Stop It Now! helpline on 0808 1000900.