Loughton school worker jailed for trying to meet 13-year-old for sex
A school canteen worker who was caught trying to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex has been jailed for 16 months.
Nicholas Baines, 41, who worked at St John Fisher Catholic primary school in Loughton, was arrested at Westfield shopping centre in Stratford on May 19 after a sting by online group Internet Interceptors.
Baines, of Tamar Square, Woodford Green, but living in Thrifts Mead, Theydon Bois until recently, arrived at the shopping centre hoping to meet 13-year-old ‘Gemma’.
He had been speaking with her over WhatsApp for the previous two weeks.
However, when he arrived it was revealed that he had in fact been speaking to a grown woman.
Police officer Sarah Doherty, 35, had been messaging him, acting in a personal capacity for the self-styled “paedophile hunter” group.
Baines had asked the girl about herself and whether she was “naughty or good” despite being fully aware of her young age, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard yesterday (July 14).
He also asked if she had a boyfriend, told her she would “look nice in a summer dress” and insisted she say he was her step-father when together in public to avoid getting him in “real s**t”.
Among suggestions the two play a naked “kissing game”, he even asked: “You’re not the police or anything like that are you?”
The exchanges between the pair ran to 74 pages over the two weeks from May 5-19 this year.
Baines admitted a single count of attempting to meet a girl under 16 following sexual grooming last month and returned to Snaresbrook Crown Court for sentencing accompanied by his parents.
“The meeting did take place at Stratford and the defendant was approached by police,” said prosecutor Jeffrey Israel.
“He initially denied that he had arranged to meet Gemma.”
But Baines confessed his plans once interviewed and explained that his wife had thrown him out and he “just wanted someone to talk to”.
Archangelo Power, for Baines, reminded the court that the messages were halted for a period of seven days within the two weeks and started up again after Ms Doherty reopened communications.
Mr Power described how Baines has “lost his reputation, lost his wife, he has lost everyone” and asked whether those consequences, combined with exposure he has received, could be deemed punishment enough.
“He knows that he is going to go on the sex offenders’ register,” he said, adding that Baines had attended court with his bags packed.
“He knows that his activities are going to be severely curtailed.
“The real issue is – does he pose a real risk of serious harm?”
Mr Power urged the judge to spare his client immediate custody and instead suspend the sentence with rehabilitative requirements to “steer him away from this type of offending”.
Judge John Lafferty told Baines: “You clearly had a sexual interest and that is plain from the exchange of messaging.
School worker pleads guilty to child grooming charge
A school canteen worker held after a “paedophile hunter” sting has pleaded guilty to grooming a child under 16.
Nicholas Baines of Thrifts Mead, Theydon Bois, appeared at Snaresbrook Crown Court this morning (June 17) after his arrest at Westfield shopping centre in Stratford on May 19.
Baines, 41, worked for Chartwells catering in the canteen at St John Fisher Catholic primary school, Loughton.
He was held by police after members of online group Internet Interceptors met him at the Stratford shopping centre.
The group describes itself as “a dedicated team of parents hunting paedophiles and sexual predators across the UK keeping our communities safe”.
They alleged he was attempting to meet with a 13-year-old girl after believing he had talked to her online, hoping to have sex with her in her home.
However, when the group met him they revealed he had been speaking to a grown woman.
In a video posted on the Internet Interceptor’s Facebook page, members claim Baines was repeatedly reminded of the age of the girl he was supposedly speaking to.
A woman read from a log of messages allegedly sent by Baines, such as “Would you like to touch each other, cuddle, kiss, run around the house naked?”
They claimed he asked if she wanted to have sex and “play a kissing game”.
The group also claimed he said: “You ok with my age, you’re not the police or anything like that are you?”
St John Fisher school said he was immediately suspended the day after his arrest, and that all parents and local authorities had been informed.
Head teacher Bozena Laraway previously said: “The safety and wellbeing of our pupils is of paramount importance and the school has robust safeguarding procedures in place.”
Baines has been released on bail ahead of sentencing on July 15.