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A man who sexually assaulted young children and was actively seeking opportunities to offend again has been jailed for 12 and-a-half years after a National Crime Agency investigation.

Keats Harvey, a 24-year-old American national, groomed and sexually assaulted four children, the youngest of whom was a toddler.

He was arrested by NCA officers at his home in West Wittering, Chichester, in May 2020 and later charged with 14 child sexual abuse offences.

Harvey had a catalogue of almost 9,000 indecent images of children and 630 prohibited images on his electronic devices, which he had collated between 2015-2020. Of those were 860 category A images (the most severe), 1,290 category B and 6,984 category C.

The NCA uncovered a large number of chat logs and emails in which he had sent and received these images from other likeminded individuals, as well as admitting to having molested three young children.

Investigators subsequently identified four children who had been abused by Harvey, all of whom were under ten-years-old and have since been safeguarded.

He met his victims through other adults he knew and assaulted one of the children whilst at a party.

Harvey made multiple further attempts to meet and abuse children by befriending vulnerable adults with kids and applying for jobs at places where we knew he would have access to children, including  hospitals and nurseries.

Through their investigation into Harvey, NCA officers identified another American national they suspected had sexually abused an eleven-year-old boy.

Intelligence was shared with US authorities based in Seattle and the man, a teacher, was arrested and the child safeguarded.

Harvey was found guilty in July of six counts of possessing indecent images of children (categories A-C), two counts of possessing prohibited images, two counts of taking and one of distributing an indecent photo of a child, two counts of assaulting  a child under 13 by touching, and meeting a girl under 16 following grooming.

Today at Hove Crown Court, he was sentenced 12 years and six months in prison.

Peter Stevens, T/Regional Head of Investigations at the NCA, said: “Keats Harvey was conducting very serious offending, not just online but by physically abusing young children.

“On top of this, he was actively trying to befriend adults who had children and  had researched jobs on the internet at hospitals and nurseries, all with the aim of gaining access to children. 

“In my view he is an offender whose behaviour was escalating in terms of the severity of the offending he was trying to commit. The sentence handed down today is a reflection of that and I’m pleased he is behind bars where he no longer poses a risk to children.

“Prosecuting individuals like Harvey who are a sexual threat  to children is a priority for the NCA. My team worked tirelessly on this case throughout the pandemic, in very difficult circumstances, as they had to review huge quantities of particularly disturbing material to build the case against him and ensure he would face justice.

“We also received support from Sussex and Hampshire Police in identifying other linked offenders and safeguarding victims. This partnership working is vital to protect the most vulnerable members of our society and I am grateful for the support we received.”

15 Oct 2021