A serial sex offender who posed as a teenager to exchange messages with schoolgirls has been told by top judges he cannot complain about his jail term.
Andrew Brocklebank used a fake identity and claimed he was 16 to communicate with three teenagers, persuading one of them to send him a photograph of herself in her underwear.
The 27-year-old, of Church Street, Darlaston, was jailed for two years at Wolverhampton Crown Court in May, after admitting three counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
He challenged his sentence at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, with his lawyers arguing it was ‘too long’ for his crimes, as he didn’t meet his victims in person.
But his appeal was yesterday dismissed by three of the country’s top judges, who said ‘stern’ punishment was needed for those who commit such offences.
The court heard Brocklebank set up a fake profile and called himself Andrew Bate and used a photograph of a 15 or 16-year-old boy to communicate with the girls via Blackberry’s BBM messaging service.
The three girls were all under 16 and from Suffolk, and he exchanged up to 100 messages a day with them between August last year and February this year. Some of the messages discussed face-to-face contact but he said this was ‘all talk’ as he didn’t intend to meet any of the girls.
The court heard his messages became abusive towards one of the girls when she would not respond to him, and another girl described him as controlling.
His offending came to light when a phone conversation between him and one of the victims was overheard by her parents, who became suspicious after hearing his strong West Midlands accent. Police traced the messages back to his phone and he was arrested.
The court heard Brocklebank had just been released from a sentence for sexually assaulting a girl and breaching a sexual offences prevention order, handed to him in 2011, when he started contacting the girls. He also had a previous conviction for child abduction, involving a young boy, for which he received a 30-month sentence.
His lawyers argued his sentence was over the top for his crimes, saying the sentencing guidelines for such offences were designed for direct contact, rather than messaging or online contact.
But, dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Spencer said the offences were serious, despite the lack of actual contact, and deserved a stiff sentence.