Snapchat, Instagram used by former telco worker to sexually groom teen girls

The father of a girl who was sent sexually explicit messages by a man she met on social media has described him as a “sick, perverted individual”.

Lance Blair Ford was today sentenced in the Nelson District Court to 12 months’ intensive supervision and three months’ community detention on two charges of exposing a young person to indecent material and supplying alcohol to a minor.

The offences occurred between October 2020 and May 2021 when Ford, a telecommunications worker, used Snapchat and Instagram to befriend girls.

The police summary said the 41-year-old regularly bought restricted products for them, such as alcohol and vaping devices on request, and often drove them around in his work vehicle.

Ford also sent them sexually explicit messages, including images and video of himself masturbating.

The father of one of the victims read in court that his daughter was 14 when Ford started to groom her.

“He supplied alcohol, cell phones, sent sexual messages, and then images of his penis to my daughter.

“When I first learned of Lance Ford’s behaviour, I was really angry and deeply upset. You hear of this happening to other families but I did not ever think that this would happen to us.”

He added that parents often struggled in the current environment, competing with the draw of devices, social media and issues with internet safety.

“The impact of dealing with what happened when our daughter got entangled with a deviant predator nearly pushed us over the edge.”

He said Ford took advantage of his former role at a telecommunications firm by providing alcohol to minors using his work vehicle.

“Lance Ford is a sick, perverted individual. There is no excuse for his behaviour. He preyed on young girls and was seeking to sexually groom them using alcohol.”

The father credited the police for the “exceptional work” done in arresting Ford.

The court heard that Ford lost his job as a consequence of his offending and has since been on a benefit.

Judge David Ruth said Ford’s pre-sentence and psych reports highlighted that he was aware of the effect of his actions. He tempered the probation report, which indicated Ford was at risk of re-offending, with the psychiatrist’s report, which revealed no pattern of criminal history, and that any risk of re-offending would reduce in the future.

Ford’s sentence included that he complete treatment and counselling, that he not communicate with anyone under the age of 16, apart from his young daughter, and not use any electronic device capable of accessing the internet.

While suppression was today lifted on Ford’s name Judge Ruth said it was a “step too far” to register him on the sex offenders’ list.

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