How an elaborate police sting brought down a vile child sex predator preying on kids from around the world – as he learns his fate
- Adelaide man Andrew Lenton jailed for child sex abuse
- Groomed kids from around the world to send images
- Arrested when he thought he was meeting 16yo boy
A sex predator who preyed on children from across the globe using an internet chat forum has been jailed after an elaborate police sting.
Andrew Lenton, 36, was sentenced to nine years behind bars in Adelaide’s District Court on Thursday for coaxing kids to send him sexually explicit photos of themselves and arranging to meet up with a 16-year-old boy for sex – who was actually an undercover police officer.
The court heard Lenton began a conversation using a messenger service popular with teenagers in July 2019, telling the boy he was ‘really hot’, asking about the colour of his underwear and bombarding him with sexually suggestive images.
On 17 January, 2022, Lenton arranged to meet the boy, who he believed was 16 at the time, but was instead greeted by SA police officers from a child protection taskforce and arrested.
Police then seized Lenton’s mobile, computer and a memory card from his Adelaide CBD address and found nearly 300,000 images and videos, the majority of which depicted sexual exploitation of children.
Adelaide man Andrew Lenton, 36, has been jailed over possessing and distributing hundreds of thousands of images of child sexual exploitation
Using messenger apps Lenton had been communicating with children around the world with police finding 241 unopened chat messages.
Lenton sent a picture of his penis to an unidentified 13-year-old boy in Victoria and had convinced a 12-year-old boy in Florida, the US, to send nude photos of himself and his brother.
He was also attempting to swap naked photos with a 13-year-old boy in South Africa.
In summing up, Judge Liesl Kudelka said offences Lenton had been charged with were just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
Judge Kudelka noted that police were unable to review all the files he kept because of the sheer number but had ‘exceeded reviewing the recommended maximum reviewable files’ to bring to alert the court to such a huge quantity of material.
Lenton was also found guilty of breaching bail conditions by using a mobile phone to communicate with a child under 18 but this did not add to his sentence.
During sentencing Lenton wept after earlier acting nonchalant by cleaning his fingernails as the charges were read out, according to the Adelaide Advertiser.
In sentencing Judge Kudelka said she had taken into account a mental health assessment made of Lenton but regarded him as being a ‘high risk for reoffending’ and that the community needed to be protected..
Police discovered that Lenton was in communication with boys around the world, who he was grooming to swap sexually explicit material
‘Children are vulnerable members of the community,’ Judge Kudelka said.
‘That vulnerability is magnified by the internet, which enables sexual predators like you to contact children without any responsible adult knowing about it.
‘No-one wants sexual predators like you in the community.’
Judge Kudelka imposed a sentence of 14 years but reduced it to nine years to account for time jailed over concurrent charges.
The sentence was backdated to commence from 7 March 2022 with a non-parole period of seven years.
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