A former Hertfordshire Scout leader has been jailed after he sexually groomed and met up with a 13-year-old boy.
Russell Matthews, 35, of Upper Barn, Hemel Hempstead, appeared before St Albans Crown Court last Thursday (December 10) after he previously pleaded guilty to numerous child sex offences.
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 October 23 that year.
He travelled to meet the boy at the Hatfield Galleria Shopping Centre and he was then apprehended by officers from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) and Hertfordshire Constabulary.
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Matthews, a former Scout leader in Hemel Hempstead, was arrested, taken into custody and later charged.
His mobile phone was seized and officers found a large number of indecent images as well as conversations with a 15-year-old boy.
Officers traced the boy, who lived outside of Hertfordshire, and he told detectives how Matthews had contacted him through an online app before sending him inappropriate sexual messages and images.
The victim blocked Matthews after the messaging became incessant and safeguarding has now been put in place.
Matthews pleaded guilty to the following charges in court last week:
- Attempt to meet a child following sexual grooming
- Attempt sexual communication with a child
- Attempt to cause a child to watch a sexual act
- Cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity
- Cause 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
A further charge of arranging or facilitating commission of a child sex offence will lie on file.
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.