A bank employee, who hails from Kerala, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison in the UK for attempting to arrange sex with a minor girl whom he met online.
Balachandran Kavungalparambath, 38, was caught on camera by a UK-based vigilante group Internet Interceptors, which tracks the internet to catch adults grooming children online for sexual abuse.
A business manager with Citibank India, Balachandran was intercepted in a hotel room in Birmingham where he had arranged to meet one of the vigilante group's activists, who posed as a 14-year-old girl during WhatsApp chats with him.
Internet Interceptors streamed the video of their encounter with Balachandran on Facebook Live. When he was ordered to empty the contents of his rucksack, viagra and a condom pack spilled out onto a table in front of him, with 130,000 Facebook users watching the video live.
"Bala travelled from #London on September 10th to meet a 14 yr old child in Birmingham. He booked into a hotel and waited for her to arrive. To his surprise, he was greeted by us! In his ‘groom kit’ he had a perfume gift, viagra and condoms," read a Facebook post by Internet Interceptors.
Balachandran, a Kerala native settled in Mumbai, moved to the UK some time ago on a Tier 2 general visa with sponsorship from Citibank. "This individual is not a Citi employee any longer. The offences are abhorrent," a spokesperson for Citibank said after the verdict.
Besides his 15-month jail term handed down last week, Balachandran has also been placed on the sex offender register for 10 years and handed a 10-year sexual harm prevention order to prevent any future re-offending.
The Birmingham Crown Court was told that the video was streamed on Facebook Live, during which the London-based banker and father of one broke down in tears and claimed he just wanted to have lunch with the youngster.
"I have heard about this. I have heard about these groups. But as I said, I was supposed to have a chat with her, it was not with the intention of getting her into a bed and having sex with her. That was not my intention," he can be heard saying in the video.
However, when his own Whatsapp messages to the girl, which indicated otherwise, were read out to him, he admitted to the crime.
"It's not right, I accept my mistake. I will have to leave the country. I am from India. I lose my job, I have to leave the country," Balachandran says, when asked what would happen to him as punishment.
Find Internet Interceptors' Facebook Live videos with Balachandran below: