Police have warned would-be child sex predators who who attempt to groom youngsters online, they cannot escape justice following the jailing of a Wythenshawe computer expert today.
Matthew Winterbottom (pictured) aged 24, of Thornsgreen Road, Wythenshawe, who had unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl he had groomed on the internet was jailed for 32 months after admitting sexual activity with a child, grooming and possessing indecent images of a child.
Police say Winterbottom, a computer forensics graduate, had contacted numerous underage girls through social networking sites and thought he could not be traced because of his knowledge of computers.
But Winterbottom was caught following an unnconected investigation after his computer was analysed.
He has been ordered the sign the sex offenders register for life and has been given a Sex Offender Prevention Order.
It was during an unconnected investigation into Winterbottom that police received information that he had groomed a girl in Nottingham after befriending her on Facebook.
Officers traced the girl who confirmed Winterbottom had taken her to a hotel when she was 13 and had sex with her.
Analysis of Winterbottom’s computer showed how he would spend anywhere between six months and two years grooming underage girls. He would search the ‘friends’ lists on his own friends accounts on Facebook, looking for young girls to befriend. Many of those who spoke to him would disengage when he tried to introduced a sexual element.
Police recovered 5575 images depicting child modelling and 913 indecent images from his computer.
Detective Sergeant David McCulloch, said: “Winterbottom spent three years at university studying computer forensics and I believe this gave him the confidence to think his actions could not be traced.
“Every stroke of a keyboard leaves an indelible fingerprint in cyberspace and we were able to see exactly what he had been up to. Our computer expert was able to retrieve data from his computer and this supported the intelligence we received.
“The more I looked into what he was doing, the more apparent it became just what lengths he would go to in order to groom young girls.
“In some cases he had been interacting with them for as long as two years. His motive for being online in these forums, which often went into the early hours of the morning, is clear: he tried to meet up with and engage in sexual activity with children. In relation to one victim, unfortunately he succeeded.
“He is without doubt a calculated and predatory paedophile.
“Cases like this reinforce the need for children not to accept people as friends who claim to know their friends and for parents to know who their children are talking to at all times.
“I would also encourage parents to remind your child of the dangers of befriending strangers and together discuss using an app which allows you to know their whereabouts.”