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‘Devious sexual predator’ jailed after Gatwick arrest

The 25-year-old builder from the US was initially only questioned as part of a routine check.

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US national, Fredis Mata, 25

A man travelling to the UK from America has been jailed after intending to meet a young girl he sexually groomed online.

25-year-old Fredis Mata, a US national, was arrested on arrival at Gatwick Airport’s South Terminal on 9 February.

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During a routine check by Border Force officers, he initially claimed he had been visiting the UK to meet his 21-year-old girlfriend.

However, after further probing, Mata stated his girlfriend was 17, before finally admitting she was in fact 14.

A further interview and search revealed a large number of sex toys in his luggage, including ropes and harnesses.

“Mata is a devious sexual predator who came very close to destroying the life of a vulnerable 14-year-old girl”

Enquiries with Hertfordshire Police (Mata said he was going to stay at the Premier Inn at Welwyn Garden City) confirmed the victim as being 14 years old and living a very short distance from Mata’s intended residence.

It was also confirmed that the victim and Mata had been involved in an online relationship for several months and the nature of the conversations were very sexualised.

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Mata, a builder, of no fixed address, was subsequently charged with the following offences:

  • Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity
  • Engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child
  • Meeting a child following sexual grooming

He pleaded guilty to all three offences at Lewes Crown Court on Thursday 1 March and was remanded in custody for sentencing.

At the same court on Thursday (12 April), he was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment, consisting of six years in custody followed by four years on licence.

His sentence was broken down as follows:

  • Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity: three years;
  • Engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child: two years;
  • Meeting a child following sexual grooming: one year

The defendant was also given a restraining order preventing him from contacting the victim in any way.

Detective Inspector Andy Richardson said:

“The online conversations between Mata and his victim were initiated by him, and although the victim was reluctant to engage in them at times, Mata would coerce her into participating in his fantasies through emotional threats and control.

“The victim was also forced into performing sex acts via video with Mata and his intentions upon meeting the victim were very obvious. Frighteningly, their meeting had been arranged for a specific date and time.

“Mata is a devious sexual predator who came very close to destroying the life of a vulnerable 14-year-old girl, and was only prevented from doing so by the magnificent work of Border Force officers, who proactively stopped him and referred the case to Sussex Police.

“I would urge parents to be aware of what their children are doing online as predators do exist and target vulnerable children. What may start off as an innocent encounter can quickly develop into something more sinister.

“The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre provides some good advice.”

Emma Porter, Director of Border Force South, said:

“This was an excellent stop by the Border Force officer on the immigration controls, who quickly assessed that Mata’s case warranted further investigation. That vital intervention was the crucial first step towards bringing a dangerous sexual predator to justice.

“The case is a valuable reminder of just why the checks we conduct at passport control are so important. Thousands of people pass through the immigration halls at Gatwick every day and every single one is subjected to full security checks. It is challenging work but, as this case demonstrates, work that our officers do well.”

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Police appeal for information following jewellery stolen in Southgate, Crawley

Police are appealing for information following the theft of sentimental jewellery from a Crawley property.

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A total of four rings, eight earrings, four necklaces, nine bracelets and £200 were stolen from a house in Wolstonbury Close, Crawley, between 6 and 17 September.

PC Luke Farley said: “The victims were away when the burglary took place, and the incident has left them very upset.

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“A lot of the jewellery stolen holds sentimental value and we would like to return them to their rightful owners.

“We would like to speak to anyone who noticed any suspicious behaviour in the area during the time the items could have gone missing.

“Do you have house CCTV footage that captured anything unusual?

“We are also urging everyone to keep an eye out for the jewellery being sold either in shops or online and to contact us immediately if you see it.”

You can report information to Sussex Police either online or by calling 101 quoting reference 783 of 17/09.

Alternatively, you can visit the Crimestoppers website or contact the independent charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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