Hemel Hempstead man jailed for four years for child sex offences

The 35-year-old was sentenced on Thursday, December 10

Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 10:39 am

A man from Hemel Hempstead has been sentenced to a total of four years in prison after pleading guilty to a number of child sex offences.

Russell Matthews, 35, of Upper Barn, appeared before St Albans Crown Court for sentencing on Thursday, December 10, after previously pleading guilty to the following charges:

- Attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming

Russell Matthews has been sent to prison

- Attempting sexual communication with a child

- Attempting to cause a child to watch a sexual act

- Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity

- Causing a child to watch a sex act

- Possession of Category A indecent images

- Possession of Category B indecent images

- Possession of Category C indecent images.

The court heard how in September 2019, Matthews began engaging in sexual communication online with a 13-year-old boy and arranged to meet him on 23 October 2019.

After travelling to meet the boy at the Galleria shopping centre in Hatfield, Matthews was apprehended by officers from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) and Hertfordshire Police.

Matthews, a former Scout leader in Abbots Langley, was arrested, taken into custody and later charged.

When officers seized his phone as part of the investigation they discovered a large number of indecent images, as well as conversations between Matthews and a 15-year-old boy.

They traced the boy, who lived outside of Hertfordshire, and he told detectives how Matthews had contacted him through an app online before sending him inappropriate sexual messages and images.

The victim eventually blocked Matthews after his messaging became incessant, and safeguarding is now in place.

Detective Sergeant Mark Pickard, who led the investigation, said: “Matthews is clearly a very dangerous individual who had no qualms about exploiting children in order to satisfy his own abhorrent urges.

“He is now in a place where he can no longer target any more vulnerable young people and he will be monitored by police for the rest of his life.

“We will do everything we can to safeguard those being targeted and will continue to utilise multiple tactics to continue to identify, charge and convict offenders who prey on children.”

Following his sentencing, Matthews was issued a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and told his name will remain on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.

His electronic devices on which the indecent images and messages were found will also be destroyed.

Families can find out more about how to keep children and young people safe online on the NSPCC website.

Hertfordshire Police take all reports of child sexual offences very seriously. If you have information you would like to share, you can report it online or call 101.

If you think there is danger to life, or believe a crime is in progress, always dial 999.