THE 15-year-old Cornish girl thought she was flirting with another teenager on one of a growing number of internet chat sites.
Under invented usernames, she bantered with ‘Jai’, who claimed to be 18 and from Taunton in Somerset.
Little did she know, her new ‘friend’ was a married 38-year-old predatory child sex offender from London who would pressure her into having sex in the back of his black Peugeot 306, in a dark corner of a school car park near her village home.
In what Judge John Neligan called a “message” that his kind of sick behaviour would not be tolerated, Jahangir Karim, a father of two young girls, was jailed for a total of five years at Truro Crown Court. He appeared on six charges, including grooming and three of penetrative sexual activity with the teenager from the West Briton area, and attempting to incite children under 16 and under 13 over the internet to engage in sexual activity.
And as Cornwall police warned others like him they will be caught and prosecuted, the West Briton can reveal Karim was found to have targeted up to 25 children as young as 11 with his sexual chat through social networking websites.
Investigators said they found 200,000 lines of communication between him and children.
Truro Crown Court heard the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, started chatting with Karim on Netlog in January of this year and continued on MSN.
Prosecutor Ramsay Quaife told the sentencing hearing on Friday: “Their profile pages said what ages they were and the defendant’s said he was 18. [Hers] said she was 15. This defendant was 38 at the time, now 39. From early on the conversation revolved around sex. He told her he wanted to have sex with her.”
Karim gave her his mobile phone number, which would later contribute to his downfall, and they spoke up to three times a day “mostly about sex”, according to Mr Quaife. “He pressured her to meet up and eventually she agreed.”
On February 29 he picked her up near her home between 9pm and 9.30pm after she told her parents she was going to meet a friend. In the school car park, she was nervous and “shaking” but he persuaded her into the back seat.
After having unprotected sex and committing other acts, he dropped her where they had met, suggesting they be “friends with benefits”.
But once home, at about 9.45pm, she broke down in tears and told her stepfather what had happened. He sent a text message to Karim, who replied, “You must want to smash my face in”, the court heard.
The police were contacted, interviewed her on March 9 and began their hunt for her abuser.
Detective Constable Nick Parr, of the Devon and Cornwall Police child exploitation unit, told the West Briton: “We knew his name, Jai Karim – not a lot to go on. He had mentioned Taunton and London.”
The phone number led to a flat in Stockwell Road, London, but the name registered there was Mohammad Akthar, “so we did not cotton on initially”. But checks with forces including the Metropolitan Police revealed six aliases for Akthar – one was Jahangir Karim.
Detective Constable Parr said this led to further damning information, including an allegation Karim had travelled to Lincolnshire to meet a young girl, stopped only by her grandfather, for which he was arrested but never charged. He said Karim had been to Hampshire to meet a girl he had met on MSN, later giving police conflicting explanations, claiming he was mugged and his car stolen.
The detective arrested Karim on April 26 at the London flat on suspicion of child rape. As the court would hear, DNA found on the Cornish girl’s clothes matched his.
He made no comment during interviews and was charged with grooming and the sex offences. He appeared before magistrates in Westminster, London, and pleaded not guilty at Truro Crown Court on August 17.
He changed his pleas on October 17, the day his trial was due to start, having been faced with the overwhelming evidence against him, including his history on the internet.
If technology provided the means of his perverse habits, it was also his undoing.
Mr Quaife told the court Karim denied an iPhone seized when he was arrested was his. “They (police) rang the number (the girl had given them) and hey, presto, that phone rang.”
“Checks on numberplates were made to see if the defendant had travelled to Cornwall, and again, hey, presto, analysis revealed this number plate on the A30 westbound at 7.35 that evening.”
“iPhone data was extracted and the police examined a computer which belonged to this defendant … detailing records of chat rooms and other data, which was immense.
“It showed extensive chatting between the user and females, in total 25 between the ages of 7 and 15, with whom the defendant had been involved in sexual discussions and incited to engage in sexual activity.”
Detective Constable Parr told the West Briton: “We found a laptop and all media devices seized at the time of arrest were examined – several phones. He was using sites such as Skype, MSN, Yahoo – you name it, he used it … basically grooming them all … in an attempt to engage them in sexual activity.
“He was charged with attempt to incite because we can prove he chatted to children in a sexualised manner. It shows unequivocally that he was involved in an offending pattern grooming children with a view to committing sexual offences. In total there were 200,000 lines of chat, and use of webcams as well … asking children to use cameras and show their genital areas and suggested he would show his to children.”
At court, defence counsel Michael Gomulka pointed out that no sexual chat took place with children under 11 and Karim pleaded guilty on the basis that the sex with the girl was consensual.
He said Karim recognised his actions were an inappropriate way to deal with the trauma of losing his father in 2009 which, a probation report said, caused a “physical distance between him and his wife”.
He was a “working man, family man” and the case “caused the collapse of his marriage and will have a lifelong impact on his relationship with his children, aged 12 and 9”. He was remorseful, and “men who fall into this type of behaviour because of some trauma” were less likely to reoffend, he added.
He also asked for credit for his guilty pleas, avoiding the victim having to give evidence or be cross-examined, but Judge Neligan pointed out that he could have done so sooner, saving her the anxiety of thinking she would have to go through a trial.
The judge added: “The message must go out that using social networking internet sites to solicit young, vulnerable girls who need to be protected will not be tolerated. We have to discourage other men from using the internet to do so.”
Detective Inspector Simon Snell, head of the child exploitation unit, told the West Briton Karim was a “predatory child sex offender who has been grooming young children. I think we managed some good detective work to arrest and prosecute him.”
“We’re trying to encourage people who have been victims that we will treat it seriously and investigate fully.
“We do believe victims and pursue offenders and if people think they can get away with it, they should know we’ll most likely catch up with them.”
CPS Crown advocate Julian Herbert praised the service’s work with the police on the “necessarily lengthy and complex investigation” resulting in the guilty pleas. “This case illustrates that there are offenders who cast their net wide among children who have online access, taking advantage of their trust and naivety.”
Sharon Copsey, NSPCC head of region for the South West, said: “Jahangir Karim is a predatory sex offender who knew the age of his victim. She was groomed and tricked in to being abused and will now need significant support to help her recover from her terrible experience.
“Sexual abuse causes real harm and can have a long-term impact on children and young people and the sentencing of those who commit such crimes should reflect this.”
Charges and sentences
- Jahangir Karim received the following sentences for his sex crimes against children:
- Grooming a 15-year-old – two years.
- Sexual activity with a child under 16 – two years, consecutive.
- Sexual activity with a child under 16 – 18 months, concurrent.
- Sexual activity with a child under 16 – 18 months, concurrent.
- Attempt to incite children under 13 to sexual activity – 12 months, consecutive.
- Attempt to incite children under 16 to sexual activity – six months, concurrent.
- Possession of 15 level 1 (lowest level) indecent images, charge denied – will lie on file.