A SEX offender who was tracked down by police officers has been jailed for nearly four years.

Luis Palma sexually assaulted a teenage girl at Oakwood Pond in June 2022 before she escaped the scene to get help.

Police then launched an investigation into the incident and tracked Palma down using the description his victim had provided to officers.

Palma, 31, had been wearing a blue t-shirt, blue denim shorts and Vans-style trainers and police circulated CCTV footage to officers across the town so he could be identified.

On June 17, two days after the incident, officers spotted a man holding a Nike bag similar to one he was carrying on the day he assaulted his victim.

Epping Forest Guardian: Jailed – Luis PalmaJailed – Luis Palma (Image: Essex Police)

Palma, of Ford Croft, Harlow, was circled by officers and then arrested.

When Palma’s home was searched, each of the distinctive items of clothing he had been wearing were found.

As the investigation progressed, officers also uncovered sexually explicit messages on Instagram between Palma and a 14-year-old girl.

Throughout the messages, the girl had made it clear that she was aged 14 but Palma pursued the conversation.

Palma was subsequently charged with sexual assault and sexually communicating with a 14-year-old girl between April 2022 and June 2022.

After admitting the offence before the courts in February, Palma was sentenced on Wednesday, April 10 to a 44-month prison term.

Palma, of will remain on the sex offender’s register for life and will be deported at the end of his sentence.

Epping Forest Guardian: Court – Luis Palma was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown CourtCourt – Luis Palma was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court (Image: Daniel Rees, Newsquest)

Detective Sergeant Daniela Hogan, of Essex Police’s west public protection hub, said: “Palma is a dangerous man.

“He caused incredible fear to the young victim, whose family still feel the impact of the incident today.

“This was a long and complex investigation carried out by a specialist team in Harlow which ultimately meant that the evidence against Palma left him with very little choice but to admit his guilt and accept his sentence, which means he will not step foot in Harlow again.

“I have absolutely no doubt that the town is safer place for that.”