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Cardiff man who used Snapchat to groom has been jailed

James Vaatstra, 35, knew his victim was 14 years old when he sent her a video of him masturbating.

He arranged to pick the girl up in an old ambulance which he had converted into a campervan and drove her to Ogmore-by-Sea.

The victim told police how he asked her to cuddle her while in the van after giving her cannabis.

The alarm was raised by one of the parents of one of the victim’s friends, who became concerned about some comments that she made.

He was arrested on 21st September 2021, the day after the initial call to police.

Officers found numerous sex toys during a search of his van, which was also equipped with a bed.

They also found footage similar to what had been described by the victim on his phone. In one message to the girl, entitled ‘DADDY’, he told her: “Haha if I liked prison food then I would of for you baby already taking a naughty risk meeting but I ******* love you !!!Xxx”. Officers were able to link this message to Vaatstra’s Snapchat account.

Vaatstra was charged with meeting a girl under the age of 16 following grooming. He pleaded guilty before appearing at Cardiff Crown Court on 14th October where he was jailed for two years.

He was also subject of a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and a restraining order prohibiting him from approaching or contacting the victim.

Detective Constable Sam Evans said:

“I would like to give praise to the person who acted on their suspicions and raised the alarm with police. It is my belief the intervention very likely prevented any further escalation and safeguarded the victim from further harm.
“The 14-year-old victim admitted that she was so glad that somebody had made contact because she didn’t know how to get out of the situation herself.
“This case, and others like this one, should remind everybody that there are predators online who are targeting children.
“Online safety awareness is so important, and everybody has a role to play.
“If anybody does suspect that somebody is being groomed, then please report it immediately.”

Grooming is an offence. If you suspect a person is being groomed, even if you’re not sure, please tell someone.
If you think you’re being groomed, you should tell someone.
For help, advice and info on spotting the signs of grooming, visit: https://www.south-wales.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/gr/grooming/

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