A man from St Leonards, described by police as a ‘sexual predator’, has been spared jail after he approached a 12-year-old boy in the town and made an inappropriate comment.

Daniel Bettley, 30, unemployed, of Adam Close, pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual communication with the child, following the incident in August last year.

The court heard how he had been walking his dogs when he saw the boy, and made the inappropriate comment.

Police said he did not touch the child, who ran off and later told his mother about the incident.

Detective Constable Greg Montier said:

“Bettley was a sexual predator who sought to take advantage of this boy, but who was thankfully thwarted by the youngster’s quick-thinking.

“I commend not only his quick wits, but also his courage in telling his mum what had happened and then working with us to ensure that Bettley was rightly punished for his actions.”

Bettley has been sentenced to 16 month in prison, suspended for two years, along with 300 hours of unpaid work, and a 30 day rehabilitation activity requirement.

He has also been given a sexual harm prevention order to last for ten years.