A PERVERT who groomed four schoolgirls on the internet and showered them with gifts for sex was today (Friday, July 19) jailed for four years.
Michael Hair, 28, used false name Lee Collins and pretended he was 17 when he befriended the youngsters on Facebook, Teesside Crown Court heard.
The case once again highlights the online dangers faced by girls and young women – and prompted renewed calls for extra vigilance.
The risks emerged when Darlington teenager Ashleigh Hall was abducted and murdered by paedophile Mark Chapman in October 2009.
The court heard how he did not put a photograph of himself on his page on the popular social networking site – but used it relentlessly.
He sent one of his victims – a 14-year-old – more than 20 messages asking her to meet him, said prosecutor Christine Egerton.
In all, the pair exchanged more than 730 messages online and devious Hair told her he loved her and wanted to marry her in Mexico.
After the girl’s elder sister found out what had been happening, she called the police and Hair was arrested and questioned.
He the sent a message to the teenager – who had always refused to meet him, saying: “Thanks for getting me totally f***ed.”
Detectives discovered that Hair, of Rufford Court,Guisborough, east Cleveland, had been targeting other girls in the area.
The court heard how he had had sex with two of them and bought them gifts of cigarettes and mobile phone top-ups afterwards.
Paul Cleasby, mitigating, said Hair, who worked at a potash mine, had saved his victims reliving their ordeal by pleading guilty.
He added: “Mr Hair is prepared to engage with the Probation Service and public protection unit to discuss why these offences may have come about.
“He is not a man with his head in the sand. He is prepared to address his distorted thinking. He is prepared to engage in a treatment programme.”
After the case, a Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “In order to protect children from these dangers, parents should make themselves aware of what their teenagers are doing on these sites and who they are chatting to.”
Hair admitted three charges of engaging in sexual activity with a child, one of attempting to meet a child after sexual grooming, and one of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
He was banned for life from working with children and for ten years from having unsupervised contact with girls under 16.
Judge Moorhouse also ordered him to sign on the sex offenders’ register for life, and told him: “You have let yourself down.”