Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Gary Cooper jailed for rape after online grooming

Gary Cooper Police Picture
Image caption Cooper fabricated a profile in a social network site to meet his victim

A man who raped a 12-year-old girl from Hampshire after posing online as a teenage girl, has been jailed for 14 years and four months.

Gary Cooper, 47, pleaded guilty at Winchester Crown Court to the sexual grooming and rape of the girl.

Cooper, of Windsor Drive, Hertford, fabricated a profile in a social network site in which he purported to be a 15-year-old girl called Chantelle.

Passing sentence, the judge called Cooper "highly manipulative".

The court heard how Cooper had used the online site to meet his victim in July 2011 and then took her to Hertfordshire, via Essex, where he raped her.

After being reported missing, the girl was found by Hertfordshire Police the following morning.

A police investigation uncovered a series of offences against the 12-year-old and another girl to which Cooper pleaded guilty.

Det Insp Dave Storey, of Hampshire Constabulary, said: "This incident highlights the ease with which online paedophiles can use social networking sites to communicate with children and parents should be mindful of who their children are communicating with and any arrangements that are made following contact."

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