A BURTON man has been jailed for more than four years after being caught grooming young girls over the internet.
Alex Drew, 29, of Curzon Street, Burton, pleaded guilty to 15 sexual offences at Stafford Crown Court following an investigation launched into his "suspicious online behaviour".
Drew, who worked as a barman at Hoar Cross Hall, near Burton, was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison, put on the Sex Offenders Register and made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.
Detective Inspector Becky Cawkwell, from Staffordshire Police's child exploitation team, said: "The sentence is to be welcomed and sends out a strong message to those who commit such crimes – you will be caught and dealt with accordingly.
"Drew preyed on, and exploited, vulnerable young girls. They believed they were talking online to another girl when in fact they were talking to a man.
"His actions have had a significant impact on the lives of his four young victims.
"Their bravery in speaking out is to be applauded and I hope the sentencing will bring some form of closure and help them to move on.
"Staffordshire Police is committed to protecting children and other vulnerable members of the community.
"We thoroughly investigate all allegations of sexual abuse, including historic offences, and work with partners to tackle these very serious crimes in a sensitive manner."
Police were alerted to Drew in March 2012 after receiving a report of suspicious online behaviour.
An investigation was launched by the force's child exploitation team and Drew was subsequently arrested and charged with 15 counts of sexual offences including sexual activity with a girl under the age of 13 and the creation of indecent photographs of a child.
Anyone with information about suspected sexual abuse is encouraged to report it on 101 or call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.
More information about online safety is also available at www.ceop.police.uk