matthew eglinton
Matthew Eglinton, 26, sent sexually explicit messages to the girl while grooming herMet Police

A 26-year-old man who groomed a 12-year-old girl on Facebook, sent her sexually explicit messages and lured her into his back garden for "kisses and cuddles" has escaped jail. Matthew Eglinton, from Surbiton, south west London, pleaded guilty to inciting a girl under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity.

He was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, at Kingston Crown Court on Friday 18 August. He will also be made to sign the sex offenders register for ten years.

The court heard how Eglinton met the girl in July 2016 in Surbiton and, despite knowing her age, began chatting to her via Facebook, instigating a relationship.

He encouraged her to meet him in his back garden and then in a local park. During these meetings Eglinton and the girl would kiss and cuddle.

As their relationship developed, Eglinton began to send messages of a sexually explicit nature to the girl.

By late September 2016, the girl's parents became aware that their daughter was leaving the house at night and discovered communication between the pair. They confronted Eglinton and ordered him to stop seeing their daughter.

Once the girl returned to school, she confided in a staff member about what had happened and police were called. Officers went round to Eglinton's address but he had moved out. He subsequently attended a police station and was arrested then charged.

DC Huw Jones, of Twickenham Police, said:"Matthew Eglinton deliberately targeted a vulnerable girl for the purposes of his own sexual gratification. If his actions hadn't been discovered there is little doubt that he would have carried on with his efforts to exploit this child."