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Sex offender jailed
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A sex offender who went missing before he was sentenced has been jailed.

Anthony Paul Devlin (13/04/1985) of no fixed address was previously convicted of grooming in August 2006 at Liverpool Crown Court.

Today, Friday 29 June 2012, Devlin was sentenced to 21 months in jail and ordered to sign the sex offenders register for ten years.

At the beginning of 2004, the 14-year-old victim logged onto a chat room and after a few minutes, Devlin made contact with her. They exchanged mobile phone numbers before text messages were sent until May 2004 when they agreed to meet.

The victim had originally told Devlin she was 16 but before they met, she admitted she was 14.

Despite Devlin knowing her true age, he still agreed to see her and they met in Bolton where they kissed.

In September 2004, they agreed to meet again in Bolton. Before the victim left, they kissed.

Contact was maintained throughout the months until the victim’s mother confiscated her phone after realising she was texting Devlin.

When Devlin was made aware her phone had been taken, he gave her another one so they could keep in touch.

In December 2004, the victim’s mother phoned police after realising Devlin was still texting her. He was arrested and later charged.

He was due to appear at Bolton Crown Court on 4 August 2006 but did not turn up and an investigation was launched to find where he was.

Following joint inquiries between GMP’s Sex Offender Management Unit and SOCA, it emerged Devlin had bank accounts in Vietnam and was using them. Contact was made with the Vietnamese authorities and he was found in Hanoi.

He was deported in March 2012 and arrested on his arrival at Gatwick Airport.

Detective Inspector Debbie Conlon Houldershaw from the Sex Offender Management Unit said: “The day Devlin went missing, the investigating officer worked tirelessly trying to locating him. These enquiries continued over a long period of time. Thankfully, after working alongside our colleagues at the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and SOCA, intelligence was received he was in Vietnam and we were able to bring him back to the UK to face justice.

“He preyed on the victim’s vulnerability and he knew his victim was underage but continued to keep in contact in his attempts to groom her.

"I would urge parents and children to take steps to ensure their safety on the internet, particularly with the use of MSN and other chat networks. A number of instant messaging and social networking sites now have access to an emergency internet safety button which takes users to CEOP, where suspicious behaviour can be reported."

Anyone seeking online safety advice can visit www.ceop.police.uk