The father of a young girl who was groomed by a baby-faced paedophile has called for greater parental controls on social media.
Billy Byrne, 22, of Rowland Way, Aylesbury was found guilty of sexually abusing three girls – one as young as 12 – after targeting them on Facebook, WhatsApp messages and texts.
Now the father of one of Byrne’s victims has called for the Government to step in and impose stricter rules on filtering out inappropriate content on social media sites.
He said: “Something needs to be done with the internet. There should be a filter on Facebook– he was just preying on them.
“He looks young, so he couldn’t get a girlfriend his own age. That’s why he targeted younger girls.”
The father described how after his daughter – who was 14 when the abuse started and is now 17 –found the courage to tell her parents of the abuse, the two other victims also found the strength to come forward.
But he said the stress of being cross-examined and being forced to give video evidence at the trial after Byrne pleaded not guilty, has had a devastating effect on her confidence.
He said: “My daughter is very vulnerable. She’s had two years of counselling, she’s on medication and she’s lost a lot of weight. She tried to go to college to study but had to give it up.
“Then she got a job at a gym, but when she was cleaning the changing rooms one day a man made a comment about her, she couldn’t go back.”
Sitting at Aylesbury Crown Court, Judge Francis Sheridan told Byrne: “You are a thoroughly predatory paedophile and I think you are very dangerous. Your mother cherished you as her blue-eyed boy and you thought you were untouchable, but the law is dead against you on that.
“I find it quite unbelievable what you were prepared to do to put pressure on young girls as young as 12, 13, 14 to have your wicked way with them.
“You displayed disgraceful arrogance in walking away from those very vulnerable and helpless young girls.”
Byrne’s first victim was just 12 when he met her at a friend’s sleepover in early 2010 and they exchanged numbers.
The pair became friends on Facebook and Byrne persitently asked the victim to send him naked photographs.
Byrne then pestered her for sex, saying ‘he could do things to her’ if she ‘would do things to him’, but the contact came to an end when the victim began a new relationship.
His second victim was 14 when Byrne asked her to meet him at the Edinburgh Playing Fields in Southcourt – known as The Eddy – in December 2011, but as it was dark and raining she refused.
He then asked her to meet him in Mandeville Park to ‘hang out, to kiss, to have sex’, and she agreed.
On that occasion, the pair engaged in sexual activity but did not have full sex. He then asked to meet her again in September 2012, when she was 15.
This time he had unprotected sex with her in a farmer’s field, but the jury heard how the victim became worried that she was pregnant and confided in a teacher at school.
On New Year’s Eve 2012, the victim’s parents heard Byrne had had sex with their daughter and the police were called.
When police arrested Byrne and seized his iPhone and laptop, they found text messages, Facebook messages and WhatsApps where Byrne talked graphically about sex.
When the laptop was examined, more than a thousand indecent images were found, including six classed as category A – the most serious level.
Byrne’s third victim was also 12 when she first met him in 2007, but they did not begin a relationship until she was 14 and Byrne was 17 and 18.
Again he pestered her to send him nude photos of herself and she described how she eventually ‘cracked’ and sent him the photos when she was 14 and 15.
Though this stopped when the relationship ended, she was subjected to a further ordeal when Byrne shared the indecent images with others.
Byrne will be remanded in police custody and is awaiting a psychiatric assessment.
He has been placed on the sex offenders’ register and will next appear at Aylesbury Crown Court on March 20.