Months after a Channel 4 report on Habbo’s disastrous safety record, the effects are still being felt. More specifically, numerous legal cases in which various defendants lured in pre-teens for ‘sexual’ and often scarring sessions on webcam.
What’s even more shocking was that one of these people was former police support officer, Ashley Whitfield. The 25-year-old managed to coax a number of victims, some as young as the age of 10. He persuaded numerous pre-teens by posing as a teenager in a grotesque manner. Police found a whole array of files containing child pornography on his computer.
Whitfield, who made over £20,000-a-year in his police post in Cheshire Constabulary, had been convicted guilty on a number of charges. These include, three counts of actually taking photos of children; whilst 13 counts were for physically possessing child pornography files. As these sentences were read out, Whitfield sobbed in court.
The presiding judge, Martin Rudland said: ‘What you did was go into a site where children should feel safe and free from predatory adults and corrupted them in their own homes. You wormed your way into their homes; you ruthlessly exploited the immaturity and malleability of your victims.”
Whitfield’s case was discovered after police were investigating a case in Scotland, to which Whitfield was connected to. The court heard gory accounts of how he managed to persuade an 11-year-old boy to commit a sexual act over a dozen times on the MSN messenger client. Other examples included committing sexual acts with girls over Skype. He was locked up for three and a half years in Manchester Crown Court.
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*Apologies for the quality of the image, as it was taken via a phone camera and is the only publically released image of the defendant.
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