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How could she not when they'd spent up to six hours a day chatting on the internet, by e-mail and mobile phone?

'Don't give out your name or personal details to people you meet on the internet,' her parents kept warning her, but she wouldn't listen.

And so she stepped unthinking into his carefully laid trap.

A couple of hours later they were checked onto a flight to Paris, via Heathrow.

Using her saved-up pocket money of £20 she took a taxi to Manchester airport to wait for her new 'best friend', Toby, who was flying in from the United States to meet her for the first time.

He had promised to come and 'rescue' her from her miserable life and take her to Paris. They'd never met, but Shevaun felt she knew Toby, and that he understood her better than anyone else.

She quickly dressed and packed her schoolbag with everything she would need: her passport, three changes of clothes, a CD player, her favourite music and her mobile phone charger.

Everything she didn't feel she could talk to her parents or friends about. 'Because when you let people into your head they can use that information and manipulate you,' she says now. He said he'd been self-harming, cutting himself with a knife, to ease his pain. They talked about politics, music, religion, current affairs and Shevaun was thrilled to discover that Toby's views and beliefs mirrored her own. When he asked for her private e-mail, she didn't hesitate, nor when he asked her to send him a photograph.

'I've always found it hard to trust people and open up to them, but with Toby it was easy. 'He said I was pretty and that he wanted to marry me one day and rescue me from all my troubles,' says Shevaun.

Her case, thanks to the lurid worldwide headlines that swirled around it, marked something of a watershed in that it - more than any other story - finally awoke British parents to the hidden perils of the internet.

Here, writ large, were the true dangers lurking in the burgeoning number of children's internet chatrooms.

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