A MAN who arranged to meet ‘a 13-year-old girl’ via an internet chatroom was caught out by the police, a court heard.
Carlisle Crown Court was told John Wilson, 60, of Bollam Terrace, Kirkby Stephen, was arrested by officers from Cumbria Constabulary’s Serious and Organised Crime Unit after he arranged to meet the ‘teenager’ in Whitehaven.
The ‘13-year-old girl’ he was interacting with via an internet chat room was in fact a police officer.
The court was told Wilson’s arrest was as a result of a proactive policing operation.
He began to use the chat room site Lycos and then instant messaging to engage with who he thought was a 13 year old girl.
The court heard he would highly sexualise the conversations and instigate sexual scenarios.
He pleaded guilty to attempting to incite a child under 16 years to engage in sexual activity and attempting to engage in sexual activity in the presence of a child.
Wilson was sentenced to a three year community order, a three year supervision order, and an indefinite Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO)
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Speaking after the sentence, Detective Inspector Roy Ledingham of Cumbria Constabulary, said: “Wilson’s arrest followed a proactive investigation by the police. These operations are conducted to ensure that young children who use social media remain safe.
“His arrest and sentence should send a strong message out to others that we are watching them, and we will target them with a view to putting them in front of the courts with the assistance of other partner agencies. The Crown Prosecution Service have played an integral role in ensuring a successful conviction.
“Wilson will be subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order. My message is simple – we will target others if they engage in similar activity to Wilson.
“I want to reassure parents that Cumbria Constabulary is fully committed to ensuring children in the county remain safe, and the use of an undercover police officer demonstrates that we have a number of tactics available to us.
"I want to reiterate previous messages to ensure that our children are safe when on online. Our internet safety campaigns highlight some of the ways in which parents can help to ensure their child’s safety, and also the work we are doing to tackle child sexual exploitation.”
For more information, visit http://www.cumbria.police.uk/onlinesafety.”