A teenage sexually groomed an 11-year-old boy he met via playing online video games and sent him an indecent picture.

Bolton Crown Court heard Niall Vernon, who is profoundly deaf, was 18 when he befriended the schoolboy on the online game Rainbow Six Siege in September 2017.

Nicola Carroll, prosecuting, said Vernon, now 22, requested they contact each other on Skype and then exchanged phone numbers.

Miss Carroll added: “Almost immediately the defendant began to move their friendship from gaming friends to something more sinister. The defendant repeatedly told the victim to get on Skype. The victim sent the defendant a photograph of his face so he would know what he looked like.”

Vernon, then of Belmont Road, Bolton, and now living in Accrington, sent the child an indecent photo and an obscene recording.

The child’s parents discovered the conversations and alerted police. Examination of the boy’s electronic devices showed that Vernon had, early on, sexualised their conversations.

When questioned by police Vernon claimed he thought the boy was aged 15 or 16.

The boy’s mother said in a statement Vernon had “changed the boy he was becoming”. He had started self harming and has taken an overdose.

His mother added: “I can only hope that as he grows he won’t be defined by you.”

Vernon, who has no previous convictions, admitted to engaging in sexual communication with a child.

Virginia Hayton, defending, said Vernon has not committed any offences since.

Judge Martin Walsh, after reading forensic psychiatrist and probation reports sentenced Vernon, to a three year community order with 30 days of rehabilitation activities.

“The incident occurred over four years age and significant progress has been made by you,” said the judge.

Vernon was placed on the sex offenders’ register and made subject to a sexual harm prevention order for five years.

Sourced from thebolt

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