A MAN has been sentenced to two years in prison after encouraging two children to engage in sexual activity through messaging.

Dale Lucas, aged 27, no fixed abode, was charged with two counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Between February and March 2017, Lucas initiated online contact with two teenage girls in different parts of the country.

During his contact with a 13-year-old, he formed an online relationship with her and discussed meeting. Through online messaging, Lucas incited his victim to engage in sexual activity with him, although they never met.

During interaction with a second victim, a 15-year-old girl, Lucas again discussed meeting with her and sent her graphic sexual messages.

He pleaded guilty to the two offences in a hearing at Reading Crown Court on Monday, April 15.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Rob Gibson, of Force CID based at Maidenhead police station, said: “This case highlights the dangers faced by children while they are online, and I would urge parents to monitor their online activity.

“It was only due to the vigilance of the 13-year-old victim’s mother, who found the messages on her iPad, that further harm was not done.

“Thankfully, the 15-year-old victim felt uncomfortable with the contact from Lucas and stopped talking to him of her own accord.

“Lucas entered a guilty plea at the first opportunity, and I am pleased that the court recognised the danger and handed down a custodial sentence.”

After entering a guilty plea to both offences, Lucas was sentenced to a total of two years in prison.

He was also given a ten-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.