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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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Appeal for help after five masked robbers force way into home in Crawley

Detectives in Crawley are seeking information about a violent attack at a home in Pound Hill.

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At 3,30pm on Thursday 22 November the occupants of the house in Punch Copse Road, answered the door, and were confronted with five men with their faces covered who threatened the occupants and forced their way into the house.

They stole a quantity of cash and a box containing some cutlery before leaving the address and making off in a car which was parked nearby.

All the suspects are described as black, and were wearing dark coloured clothing.

One of the occupants, a 37-year old woman, was knocked to the floor during the attack and sustained bruising and a shoulder injury for which she was treated at East Surrey Hospital.

Detective Constable Mark Buckley said;

“We have been making extensive local enquiries and are still seeking witnesses who were in the area that afternoon, particularly around Punch Copse Road or surrounding roads, and including anyone who was using dashcam in their own car at the time.”

If you have any information please contact us via 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or call 101, quoting serial 904 of 22/11.

You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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