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Home   Medway   News   Article

Chatham man Michael Fewtrell jailed for swapping lewd photographs with teenage girl in Texas in internet chatroom

14 March 2014
by Keith Hunt

A Chatham pervert has been jailed for exchanging lewd photographs with a girl in the USA - despite her being over the UK age of sexual consent of 16.

Michael Fewtrell was at first told he could be cautioned or dealt with by magistrates.

But sentencing the divorced 29-year-old father to eight months' imprisonment, a judge told him: "Rightly, in my judgement, you were committed to this court for sentence.

Michael Ross Fewtrell has been locked up for swapping lewd photographs with a girl in America

Michael Ross Fewtrell has been locked up for swapping lewd photographs with a girl in America

"You thought the law would not affect your activities as your victim was over the age of consent. How wrong you were."

Fewtrell, of Constitution Road, admitted inciting a child to be involved in pornography.

Maidstone Crown Court heard British police received information from the United States Homeland Security Organisation about contact between Fewtrell and the girl in a chatroom. 

"You thought the law would not affect your activities as your victim was over the age of consent. How wrong you were..." - Judge Philip Statman

The girl's mother had found messages on a computer at her home in Austin, Texas, in which Fewtrell asked personal questions, such as whether she was a virgin.

Prosecutor Ian Foinette said the mother also discovered explicit photographs "taken at the behest of the defendant". It was made clear to him she was only 16.

"The girl said he asked her to send pictures to him for her birthday in 2012," said Mr Foinette. "At first she refused, then she agreed. She sent them to him and then deleted them from her iPad.

"He was arrested on April 29 last year. He said he thought it was alright to have such exchanges of a sexual nature with someone who was 16 and over the age of consent."

The age of consent to be able to swap naked photographs over the internet is 18.

Tom Stern, defending, said if Fewtrell and the girl were together they could lawfully engage in sexual activity.

"He is not someone who is bracketed as a paedophile," he said, "It is not a pattern of behaviour. He has lost his work and reputation."

Judge Philip Statman sits at Maidstone Crown Court

Judge Philip Statman sits at Maidstone Crown Court

Judge Philip Statman told Fewtrell: "The motive was one of pure sexual gratification. I have absolutely no hesitation in saying the custody threshold is well and truly passed.

"The law is framed to protect children. In my judgement this is a case that calls for a sentence which sends out a clear message that those who go into chatrooms and arrange for pornographic photos to be taken and use them for sexual gratification, will go immediately to prison."

A sexual offences prevention order was made and Fewtrell's name will appear on the sex offenders' register for 10 years.


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