A 60 year old man from Totton has been sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years after being found guilty of numerous offences relating to sexual communication with a child
Appearing at Southampton Crown Court today (Friday 10 June), Mark Anthony Mengham, aged 60, of Alfred Close in Totton was sentenced for engaging in sexual communication with a child between December 2020 and January 2021 in the Totton area.
The court heard that over a span of a few weeks, Mengham exchanged messages, often of a highly sexual nature, with a child who had repeatedly stated that they were 13 years old – although in this instance the victim was not real.
Mark Mengham was arrested on Friday 15 January 2021 and was later charged with attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, attempting to cause or incite a female child under 13 to engage in non-penetrative sexual activity and attempting to cause a child aged 13 to 15 to view images of sexual activity.
Following his appearance at Southampton Crown Court, the judge sentenced Mark Mengham to nine months imprisonment, suspended for two years after facing charges of one count of attempted sexual communication with a child and one count of attempting to cause a child to watch a sexual act.
Mengham was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for five years, comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for five years and complete 40 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days. He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge and court costs.
Following the sentencing, Detective Constable Paul Hills said: “In a world where people have the ability to exchange messages through a variety of social platforms with people across the country unknown to them, and further afield, with relative ease, it is vitally important that we, as the police, are in a position to investigate if we believe that criminal offences have taken place during these exchanges.
“We want to continue to protect any vulnerable people, including young children, against possible sexual exploitation and I hope that this conviction shows the lengths that we will go to investigate any such claims.
“We hope that today’s sentencing highlights the dangers that can be lurking on social media when engaging in people you do not know.
“This case serves as a reminder, and to also alert the parents of young children, that the digital world isn’t it all it seems. People may be seemingly acting innocently in exchanging messages initially, but that this can very quickly change, taking a turn to often dark, often sexualised, conversations and messages.
“We want to encourage any victims of child sexual abuse to come forward and speak to us, no matter when it happened.
“Hampshire Constabulary take allegations of this nature extremely seriously and will always seek to bring those responsible for committing these offences to justice.
“We would encourage anyone who has been a victim of child sexual abuse to contact police on 101 where you can speak with our specialist detectives in confidence.”
If you’re worried about a child’s behaviour, either in the real world or online, or even if you’re unsure – you can speak to trained professionals who may be able to support you; as they might be at risk of child sexual exploitation.
Remind children that even though people they’ve met online might feel like friends they may not be who they say they are. It is always worth considering reviewing what apps they are using and the parental controls and privacy settings on devices, mobile apps and social media networks that they may use too.
If you think a child is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.
You can also contact the Lucy Faithfull Foundation for anonymous support and can use the Stop It Now! helpline on 0808 1000 900.