A YOUNG Rugby man who tried to persuade a 12-year-old girl to send him intimate images of her exposing herself has been ordered to take part in a sex offenders’ programme.
Matthew Munns, who was arrested after the girl’s father found his messages on her phone, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
Munns, 23, of Lower Hillmorton Road, Rugby, was sentenced to 20 months in prison suspended for two years and ordered to take part in the sex offenders’ programme.
And Judge Peter Cooke also ordered him to take part in a rehabilitation activity and to register as a sex offender for ten years.
Prosecutor Jonathan Barker said that in 2019 Munns made ‘sexually inappropriate contact’ online with a girl, initially when she was 11.
He first contacted her through Instagram in March that year, and his communication became sexual in the August.
He sent her intimate images of himself and, knowing she was only 12, he asked her to send him images of her exposing herself.
She blocked him, and an investigation began the following month after the girl’s father found evidence of the inappropriate contact on her phone and reported it to the police.
Munns was not arrested until March of last year, and he commented to officers that he understood he had made a serious mistake.
But he entered his plea on the basis that he had not told the girl he was 14, as had been alleged, pointed out Mr Barker.
Munns said he had discussed meeting the girl, but knew she was only 12 and had no intention of actually doing so, adding that he could not recall asking her for images but accepted he may have done so.
The girl says that what happened has affected her ability to trust other people and she does not want the same thing to happen to anyone else, added Mr Barker.
Amiee Parkes, defending, said that at the time Munns was 21, and it was difficult for him to come to terms with what he did, but he does accept he knew her age.
“He was struggling at the time. He does not have many friends. He met most of his friends online. He met her online, and he accepts he is the one who escalated it.
“He feels what he has done has ruined his life, and he is struggling to sleep at night.”
Miss Parkes said Munns had had a job in which he had struggled, but had recently started another job which he loves.
Although he has not told his employer about the case, he knows he is going to have to and hopes he will still keep him on.
Sentencing Munns, Judge Cooke told him: “What you did was disgraceful, but you know that.
“Like a lot of young men in the 21st century you have been living a computer-driven, internet-driven substitute for a real social life.
“Too many people of your age are living a virtual life, and for some people it leads down rabbit holes of behaviour which are unhealthy and sometimes illegal.
“If you had a kid sister you wouldn’t want someone a decade older behaving like this towards her.
“You have done a good deal to face up to it already, and the author of the pre-sentence report has made a very sensible suggestion.
“The offending was nearly two years ago, and you have stayed out of trouble, having had this warning, and you had never been in trouble before.
“There is no reason why you can’t emerge from this and put it behind you and get on with your life.”