A man from Middleton in Rochdale, Liam l’Anson North, has been sentenced to three years and four months in jail after being caught by a specialized police team dedicated to safeguarding vulnerable children online. He was found guilty of three online child sex offences by a jury at Leeds Crown Court on Monday, July 24.

The 29-year-old believed he was communicating with a young child, but it turned out he was conversing with undercover West Yorkshire Police staff. He was charged with attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and two counts of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity.

The investigation into his activities began in mid-2021 when he used an alias to contact a West Yorkshire Police-controlled account on social media. Unaware that the account was being monitored, he engaged in sexual conversations, thinking he was talking to a 13-year-old female.

However, his actions were discovered, and he was arrested by officers in June 2021. Subsequently, he appeared before magistrates on February 18, 2022, to face charges.

The Kirklees Online Investigation Team and the West Yorkshire Police Digital Forensics Unit conducted thorough investigations into the case, successfully recovering numerous messages from l’Anson’s devices, despite his attempts to delete them and conceal his activities.

PC James Hackman of the Online Investigation Team, said: “We welcome the sentencing of l’Anson North and believe he poses a real risk to young children.

“In his conversations, he demonstrated clear intent to commit serious sexual offending against young children, and it is fortunate the person he thought he was speaking with was actually a police officer.”

He added: “A key part of this investigation was the very close working between Kirklees officers and our specialist colleagues at the Digital Forensics Unit which provided us with a full picture of activity l’Anson North would rather have stayed hidden.

“This case should also make very clear to those who think they can ‘cover their tracks’ when engaging in child sexual offending that force specialists are extremely skilled at retrieving deleted evidence from phones and computer equipment.”