A FORMER dance teacher and graduate teacher trainee is behind bars after being found guilty of child sexual offences against two young girls at Guildford Crown Court on Monday (September 17).

Thomas Cox, 25, of Bordon, was jailed for seven years after he preyed on two young girls aged between 11 and 16 over a period between 2009 and 2015. The offences occurred in Frensham and Bordon.

Cox was initially charged with 15 sexual offences against three girls. Three of these charges were later dropped and he was found guilty of 12 counts, including:

*Nine counts of sexual activity with a child;

*Three counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

In addition to the seven year sentence, Cox was placed on the Sex Offenders Register for an indefinite period and given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO). He was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £120.

Investigating officer, Detective Constable David Jones said: “Thomas Cox is clearly a disturbed individual who used affection to gain the girls’ trust and then turned to emotional blackmail to try and ensure they didn’t tell anyone what was going on.

“He also displayed predatory behaviour by becoming upset and withdrawn when he did not get what he wanted.

“As soon as the victims in this case came forward, we took swift action to ensure that Cox didn’t present any further ongoing risks, including seizing his phone. Our priority was to safeguard the victims and to identify anyone else who may have been targeted.

“Mr Cox denied his guilt throughout the investigation which meant that the victims were made to stand in court and be questioned about what had happened to them in front of a jury and members of the public. Young girls in the community are now safer as a direct result of the strength and determination they showed in bringing Cox to justice. “

DC Jones continued: “I want to pay tribute to all the young women whose bravery in coming forward and giving evidence has ensured that Cox is now in prison where he belongs.”

He added: “We want to put more offenders like him behind bars - but we need people to come forward. We will always listen and take your allegations seriously."

If you suspect anyone of committing offences like the ones mentioned here, call police immediately on 101 (or always 999 in an emergency).

If you have been the victim of a sexual offence or know someone who has please report it to Surrey Police immediately via 101 (or 999 if it is an emergency).

Support and advice is also available from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) via www.nspcc.org.uk or their helpline on 0808 800 5000.

If you are concerned about your own online behaviour, or that of someone you know, make contact with the Lucy Faithfull Foundation’s ’Stop It Now’ anonymous helpline on 0808 1000 900 before your activity becomes a problem. Visit www.lucyfaithfull.org.uk/ to find out more.

Visit www.surrey.police.uk/cse for more information and advice on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

*If you or your family have been affected by Cox's actions and would like to share your story, please contact Herald chief reporter Daniel Gee on 01252 899221 or email [email protected] .