In June 2018, 32 year old Air Cadet Instructor Adam McCarley was jailed for 12 years at Manchester Minshull St Crown Court after he used his position of power to groom two teenage girls, leading one of the victims to self-harm. McCarley admitted to 16 counts of sexual activity with a child and two counts of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

By way of brief background, McCarley started to compliment the girls on their appearance before offering them lifts home from Cadet training. He started a relationship with one of the victims in 2010, it initially started on Facebook Messenger and Webcam chats which lead on to McCarley inviting the victim round to his home where they watched a film and had sexual intercourse.

It became apparent that this was not the first time McCarley’s name has come to the attention of the Police, following concerns from the first victim’s family, they reported him to the authority, but no further action was taken. McCarley continued to commit offences of this nature until he was arrested following the grooming of his second victim where her parents discovered explicit messages between them and took action. Being sentenced for 12 years, McCarley protested that this was too harsh of a ruling and upon appeal to reduce his sentence, a Judge affirmed that he ‘knew exactly what he was doing’ and his appeal was thrown out, which has now received the backing of three Senior Judges who agreed that the sentence was appropriate.


The term Grooming has been a notoriously tricky area to regulate. Offences in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 have sought to criminalise conduct that relates to child sexual grooming such as causing or inciting children to engage in a sexual activity. It can happen both online and in person and it isn’t always recognisable as a wrong-doing to the victim at first.

Many groomers will build a relationship with their victim over time which will allow the child to trust. They do this by:

  • offering advice and understanding
  • buying gifts
  • complimenting the children
  • using their professional position or reputation

From these few points, it is quite clear to see that McCarley was an adult groomer to the 2 young girls he persisted to have sexual relations with. He built relationships with the girls in order to gain their trust for his sexual benefit and he knew that this was a serious criminal offence, hence the stiff sentence of 12 years.

Section 15A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 allows for regulation of those making sexually inappropriate communications to be labelled as sexual offenders and will also prove useful in prosecuting offending behaviour which falls short of s.15. This is good news for the future in children being protected from sexual predators but opens up the possibility of the already overburdened criminal justice system to be in a more difficult position.

If you know someone that has been the subject of grooming, we appreciate that it can be very difficult to talk about what happened. We address all enquiries with the highest degree of sensitivity and deal with them in the strictest confidence. For further information and advice, call our specialist abuse team on 0330 134 6430 or email us at