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A British paedophile who sexually abused two 13 year-old girls he groomed using Internet chatrooms has had his jail sentence extended 18 months by the Court of Appeal.

Michael Wheeler, 36, an electronics engineer from Cambridgeshire, was sentenced in June to three years for unlawful sex and indecent assault on the two girls.

Wheeler escaped a longer sentence first time around because the maximum sentence for unlawful (i.e. consensual sex with a minor) for a girl aged 13 and over is two years. The legal age of sexual consent in the UK is 16.

The Court of Appeal overcame this barrier by increasing Wheeler's sentence for indecent assault and determining that the sentences for both crimes should run consecutively, not concurrently.

Today, Lord Justice Kay said that the lightest sentence Wheeler should have got was five-and-a-half years. He welcomed expected moves by Parliament to extend sentencing for sexual offences.

In his ruling, he said:

"Men contemplating involvement with much younger girls via internet chat rooms with a view to sexual activity should appreciate that the court is likely to pass a longer sentence than this in future and sentences even higher than those to which we have referred may well not be seen as manifestly excessive.

"Men contemplating involvement with much younger girls via Internet chat rooms with a view to sexual activity should appreciate that the court is likely to pass a longer sentence than this in the future." ®

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