A CHILD protection charity says it will lobby the government to ensure a new bill has the safety of children “at its heart” following the sentencing of a paedophile.

It comes after Keats Harvey, who tried to find work at nurseries, was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison last week for grooming and sexually assaulting four children – including a toddler.

The 24-year-old was arrested at his home in West Wittering, near Chichester, in May last year and charged with 14 counts of child sexual abuse offences.

He was found guilty of all charges at Hove Crown Court in July, which included six counts of possessing indecent images of children, two counts of assaulting a child under 13 by touching and meeting a girl under 16 following grooming.

Harvey, originally from the US, sought jobs at nurseries and hospitals in the UK to meet and abuse young people, the court heard.

The Argus: Keats Harvey was arrested at his home in West Wittering, near Chichester, in May last year Keats Harvey was arrested at his home in West Wittering, near Chichester, in May last year

Almost 9,000 indecent images of children and 630 prohibited images were discovered on his electronic devices, which he had collated between 2015 and 2020.

Of these, 860 were category A - the most severe and extreme category for child pornography.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) says it will lobby government to ensure a new child safety bill is up to their standards.

“Harvey’s abhorrent catalogue of abuse has thankfully been brought to an end, and we hope that his victims can now access the support they need to move on with their lives,” an NSPCC spokesperson said.

"As this case shows, the internet often remains an unsafe space for children, providing the tools for offenders like Harvey to groom young people, as well as meet other abusers.

"The NSPCC will continue to lobby the government to ensure the proposed online safety bill is not only robust and effective, but has the safety of children at its heart."

Investigators also discovered a large number of chat logs and emails in which Harvey had sent and received these images from other like-minded individuals, as well as admitting to having molested three children.

He met his victims through other adults and made several attempts to meet and abuse children by befriending vulnerable adults with children.

A court heard he assaulted a child while at a party.

National Crime Agency (NCA) investigators identified another American national they suspected had sexually abused an 11-year-old boy.

Intelligence was shared with police officers in Seattle, US, and the man, a teacher, was arrested and the child safeguarded.

NCA regional head of investigations Peter Stevens said Harvey was conducting “very serious offending, not just online but by physically abusing young children”.

“On top of this, he was actively trying to befriend adults who had children and had researched jobs on the internet at hospitals and nurseries, all with the aim of gaining access to children,” he said.

“In my view, he is an offender whose behaviour was escalating in terms of the severity of the abuse he was trying to commit.

"The sentence handed down is a reflection of that and I’m pleased he is behind bars where he no longer poses a risk to children.”