A Sydney man has been arrested outside a Parramatta pool, after allegedly grooming a 14-year-old girl online. The 39-year-old had gone to the pool to meet the girl, where he was arrested by local police yesterday afternoon.
Detectives from the Sex Crimes Command’s Strike Force Trawler had been posing as the 14-year-old. They allege the man made numerous sexually explicit comments to the child, as well as arrangements to meet with her.
This comes weeks after the 10-year anniversary of the death of 15-year-old Carly Ryan, who was the first girl to be killed in Australia by an online predator in February, 2007.
Carly had been talking to a man she thought was a boy called Brandon, of a similar age to her. They'd been chatting online for 18 months.
"She thought this boy really like her, that he loved her," Carly's mother Sonya Ryan told Mamamia.
"But Brandon wasn't real and he murdered her," she continued. "I thought she was going to a friend's house. We've since learned he picked her up with his son in the car."
Gary Frances Newman, 50, was the man behind "Brandon". He arranged to pick Carly up, after she refused his sexual advances online, and took her to a beach at Port Elliot. There, he bashed and suffocated her face. He threw her into the water to drown.
At the trial for Carly's murder, it was found Newman was operating 200 fake profiles of young men online. All designed to prey on young girls.
Since her daughter's death, Sonya has been campaigning for Carly's Law to be passed in parliament. It would make it a criminal offence for a person older than 18 to misrepresent their age to a child online, with the intention of meeting them.
At the moment, sexual intention needs to be proven before police can step in and arrest an individual for grooming.
"This law would mean police would be able to act much faster," Sonia said. "And also gives a reason for parents to go to the police when they're concerned."
You can see more about Carly's Law at the Carly Ryan Foundation website here.