A judge has slammed Instagram for failing to hand over chat logs between a pedophile and a vulnerable 15-year-old girl he was grooming.
Dominic Nielen-Groen, 39, used a kinky sex chat Instagram community called ‘Daddy Dom little Girl’ to focus on the schoolgirl, who lived over 160 miles from his home in Wolverhampton.
He later drove to meet her at a play park in Seaton, Devon, where he hugged her and tried to force her to suck on a baby’s dummy.
He continued to tease her with messages and tried to arrange a second meeting.
The computer engineer used the name Papa Bear on the Instagram community which Recorder Jonathan Barnes said was ‘widely utilized by pedophiles’.
The girl, who can’t be named for legal reasons, had over 3,000 followers and had send some of photos of her body in exchange for cash.
But Exeter Crown Court heard how her on-line activities had a traumatic impact on her.
She changed from a model student predicted to get prime GCSE grades to a persistent truant who missed over half her final term at school.
Nielen-Groen was found guilty of grooming a child with the intention of committing a sexual offence and imprisoned for 18 months.
Instagram said it had blocked all associated hashtags he had used; however the judge criticized the social media giant’s refusal to hand over chat logs of conversations between Nielen-Groen and the girl.
He told the court: ‘Sometimes these social media corporations put misplaced loyalty to their customers before the administration of justice.’
Nielen-Groen was placed on the sex offenders register and made the topic of a Sexual harm prevention Order, which restricts future contact with kids and allows the police to monitor his internet use.
The judge told him: ‘You asserted the community had nothing to do with child sex. It may be there are adult members of the community who don’t have pedophile tendencies.
‘I am quite positive that many of the members, as well as you, join it because they have a sexual interest in kids.’
During the trial the jury heard Nielen-Groen had travelled to meet the girl in August 2018.
Police arrested him after the girl contacted police earlier in the year.
Instagram’s owner Facebook said associated hashtags had been blocked, therefore it would ‘no longer be searchable, visible or recommendable’.
It said it had ‘tripled the scale of our safety team to 30,000 people’ in the past year and worked closely with police and child protection organizations.
The firm additionally says it uses technology ‘to proactively discover grooming and prevent child sexual exploitation’ and is ‘continuing to create new features and technology to search out harmful content’.
It added: ‘Keeping youngsters safe on our platforms is a prime priority.’