A MAN who denied to his family that he ever travelled to England was jailed today for six years for grooming teeange girls.
David Osborne had always denied the charges after he was accused of travelling to the UK to meet his prey after the offences came to light two years ago.
However, today the 41-year-old finally admitted his guilt sparing his victims the ordeal of having to travel from England to give evidence against him.
A source told the Belfast Daily after his sentencing today: “He hoodwinked a lot of people into believing he was innocent of all the charges.
“He told his family that the allegations were not true and that he had never travelled to England to meet the girls.
“When he was asked about the charges, he said that he always believed the girls were much older and he wasn’t into young girls.
“Even when he appeared in court he tried to deny it was him, saying that he had been released on bail.
“Butwhen the case hit the headlines the paramilitaries weren’t too long in getting on his case.
“Car tyres were slashed outside his brother’s house which was a clear warning that they knew all about him.”
Today, Belfast Crown Court heard that Osborne, of Summer Street, in the Oldpark district or north Belfast, was grooming three 13 year-old girls for sex.
He sent them gifts, Valentine’s cards and money and also travelled to England to meet one of them.
He also sent lewd text messages and even sent one of them an indecent image of himself.
In return, the girls sent him pictures of themselves.
Osborne pleaded guilty to one count of meeting a child following sexual grooming, two of attempting to meet a child after grooming and three charges relating to indecent photographs of children, all committed on dates between 17 January 2008 and 4 February 2009.
Judge Corinne Philpott QC said if the teenager he met at a hotel in England had not walked out on seeing that he was not the young man of 19 or 20 that he claimed to be, “one doesn’t actually know what precisely he would have done on the day in question”.
She added however that given the circumstances “it is reasonable to conclude that significant, intimate sexual activity could have taken place”.
An earlier court heard how his offences came to light when the mother of one of the girls became concerned about who she was contacting on her mobile phone.
When she examined the phone and saw the content of some text messages she contacted police.
The police investigation revealed two other girls of the same age, with all three living in various parts of England, had also been contacted by Osborne who during online chats, text messages and phone calls claimed to be 20 years younger than he actually was.