Two mothers whose daughters were both targeted by Stephen Woolley have spoken of their shock at discovering their daughters had been internet grooming victims.
As reported by the Courier, the 27-year-old, of Stocks Lane, Luddenden Foot, was jailed for five years after admitting 25 sexual offence charges, involving inappropriate contact over the internet.
One mother said: “I was one of those parents that thought that internet grooming happened to other people’s children. But it can happen to anybody.”
She was first alerted by a mother of one of her daughter’s friends, who contacted her to say the police had been at their school, asking pupils if they had received any inappropriate messages over Facebook.
When she asked her daughter about it, she burst into tears.
It transpired that he had been sending her messages and they had become of a sexual nature.
“They were disgusting,” said the girl’s mum.
“He was pressurising her to use her web cam.”
She said her daughter had been too afraid to tell anyone because she was worried she was the one who had done something wrong.
“She is not the kind of girl you would typically think would be groomed,” she said.
“She is in the top set for all her subjects, she’s got nice friends.”
The mum said after finding out about Woolley, she banned Facebook at first, and now only allows her children to go on it for half an hour at a time, and only at the kitchen table where they can be supervised.
She has also barred any kind of internet use in her children’s bedrooms.
“The internet means that children can be in contact with people they wouldn’t usually be in contact with,” she said.
“I don’t think it’s healthy at all. It makes children more vulnerable.”
Another mother found out after Woolley sent an explicit Facebook message to her daughter and she showed a teacher, who alerted the police.
She played a key part in helping officers track him down.
She said she wanted to help as much as she could because she was angry he had targeted her daughter and she feared he could find more victims.
“He needed catching,” she said.
“When I found out I felt really sick. The messages he was sending were disgusting.
“I used to go on her Facebook account every now and then to check, and always said if they didn’t want to give me their passwords then they wouldn’t be allowed to use it,”
She said her daughter has been left much more wary since her experience with Woolley, as has she as a parent.
She urged parents to check their children’s accounts regularly and make sure they know who their children are in contact with.
“It’s not being nosey, it’s your child at the end of the day,” she said.