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Explanatory Memorandum to Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008

Article 22: Meeting a child following sexual grooming

7.51.Article 22 makes it an offence for a person (A) aged 18 or over to meet intentionally, or to travel with the intention of meeting, or otherwise arranges to meet, a child aged under 16 in any part of the world, if he has met or communicated with that child on at least two earlier occasions, and intends to commit a "relevant offence" against that child either at the time of the meeting or on a subsequent occasion. An offence is also committed if the child communicated with travels with the intention of meeting A in any part of the world. An offence is not committed if A reasonably believes the child to be 16 or over.

7.52.The offence is intended to cover situations where an adult (A) establishes contact with a child through, for example, meetings, telephone conversations or communications on the Internet, and gains the child's trust and confidence so that he can arrange to meet the child for the purpose of committing a "relevant offence" against the child. The course of conduct prior to the meeting that triggers the offence may have an explicitly sexual content, such as A entering into conversations with the child about the sexual acts he wants to engage her in when they meet, or sending images of adult pornography. However, the prior meetings or communication need not have an explicitly sexual content and could for example simply be A giving the child swimming lessons or meeting her incidentally through a friend.

7.53.The offence will be complete either when, following the earlier communications, A meets the child or travels to meet the child, or arranges for the child to travel to meet him with the intent to commit a relevant offence against the child. The intended offence does not have to take place.

7.54.The evidence of A's intent to commit an offence may be drawn from the communications between A and the child before the meeting or may be drawn from other circumstances, for example if A travels to the meeting with ropes, condoms and lubricants.

7.55.Paragraph (2)(a) provides that A's previous meetings or communications with the child can have taken place in or across any part of the world. This would cover for example A emailing the child from abroad, A and the child speaking on the telephone abroad, or A meeting the child abroad. The travel to the meeting itself must at least partly take place in Northern Ireland.

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