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Last Updated: Friday, 6 June, 2003, 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK
'My daughter is scarred for life'
The mother of one of paedophile Michael Wheeler's victims says his internet grooming of her daughter has drawn a dark cloud across her whole family and she warns other parents to be sure who their children are talking to online.

It is every parent's nightmare.

An early morning knock on the door and the police try as gently as they can to tell you that your 13-year-old daughter has been the victim of a 36-year-old paedophile.

Worst still, all the hours she spent on the computer in her bedroom when you thought she was doing her homework or chatting to other little girls, he was grooming her for sex.

The mother of one of Wheeler's victims said the news took days to sink in.

The mother of a paedophile victim with BBC reporter James Westhead
The girl's mother talks to BBC reporter James Westhead

"I couldn't believe that someone had taken advantage of her like that. Making her understand that she was in love - just used her like that," said her mother, whose identity has been concealed to protect the girl.

The girl's mother and father thought they were doing what they could to protect their daughter while giving her the freedom teenagers crave.

They drove her to the cinema to meet friends and picked her up when the film finished.

Unknown to them, Wheeler was inside the cinema, waiting.


"We were concerned we were doing the right thing - obviously he knew that so he persuaded them to meet them in there," she said.

"He had prearranged it and we had no idea."

They also had no idea that by the time the girls were 13, Wheeler was having sex with them in his car, his office and the park.

He tried to conceal the evidence by making them take baths afterwards.

The mother says her daughter is a sensible girl so she can only imagine that Wheeler "brainwashed" her.

It's left a very deep scar
Victim's mother

The realisation that what Wheeler had done to her was wrong has left the teenager "withdrawn and tearful".

"She thinks that I don't trust her anymore because I'm over-protective. It's left a very deep scar," her mother said.

She is very disappointed at the length of sentence Wheeler received.

"Three years is nothing for what he's done to my daughter and my family," she said.

"She will have to live with this for the rest of her life."

She urged other parents to talk to their children about the dangers of internet chatrooms.

"Explain to them not everybody is truthful and they just might be trying to get something for themselves."

Chat room paedophile jailed
07 Jun 03  |  England
Sex law changes imminent
06 Jun 03  |  UK
'I was groomed online'
06 Feb 03  |  UK News
The threat of the net
06 Jan 03  |  UK News
Q&A: Keeping safe on the net
06 Jan 03  |  Technology


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