TWO Northleach men who persuaded a 12 year old girl to perform sex acts via WhatsApp were jailed yesterday.

Richard Hall, 28, of Mays Crescent, and Christopher Hanks, 19, of MacArthur Road were caught when her shocked mum saw an indecent message arrive on her daughter's phone.

Both men contacted the girl separately via the messaging service and were not acting together when they each got her to behave indecently, it was heard.

Hall was jailed for four years and the judge sentenced Hanks to 28 months in a young offender institution, each admitted two charges of causing or inciting a girl under 13 to engage in a sexual act.

The offences came to light in May last year after the girl's mother asked to look at her phone, as she was looking at it a WhatsApp message came in from Hall which included a picture of him exposing his private parts.

The incident was immediately reported to the police, who found additional explicit images, as well as evidence of emotional blackmail and 'a certain amount of grooming', the court heard.

Messages and indecent images from Hanks to the girl were also found on the phone, it was heard in court.

Her communications with Hall went on for longer than with Hanks and were at their peak in May/June last year when they exchanged 1,297 WhatsApp messages .

The girl's mother told the court said she felt disgusted and that she felt that her daughter had had 'part of her childhood stolen from her'.

"I didn't want her to have her phone back," she said. "I feel I don't want her to have that freedom.

"I am now always uncomfortable when she is in her room with her computer. I am scared about what could have happened. It makes me really angry.

"I honestly thought this would never happen. The fact we knew these people makes me even more disgusted. I feel part of her childhood has been stolen from her."

The court heard that Hall, who has lost his job as a result of the case, understood that his behaviour was idiotic.

"He shares the police, the prosecution and the court's view of these offences," his lawyer explained. "He describes his behaviour as idiotic. He feels regret and shame and wishes to apologise."

Hanks' lawyer pointed out his client was only 18 at the time of the offending and urged the court to consider a suspended sentence.

Both men were jailed.