September 2016

Christian youth worker snared trying to groom 12-year-old girl online

A Christian youth worker who attempted to groom children online was caught by an undercover police officer posing as a 12-year-old girl. 

A court heard how Sam Rourke led ‘two lives’ – one as a respectable churchgoer working with children with learning difficulties and another ‘fantasy life, indulging in talking to young girls’.

The 23-year-old of Feltham, Middlesex, sobbed as he was given a 16 month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

The support worker, who said he worked with children with learning difficulties, had previously admitted inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Speaking at Preston Crown Court, Lancashire, prosecutor Francis McEntee said: ‘The defendant had been engaging in chat online, clearly in the belief he was dealing with either a 12 or 13-year-old, when in fact he was engaged in sexualised talk with an undercover police officer.

‘The undertaking when entering is that the user condition requires you to specify you are aged between 12 and 19. He signed himself as being 19.

‘There’s a facility for private chat. It’s by that means that he was contacting the undercover officer – who had a a principle name of ‘Kayla and Lozzer’.

‘On January 19 at 1.10pm, the defendant first made contact with ‘Kayla’ who is described as being 12. 

‘It started with questions of, ‘How are you?’ and quickly, ‘How old are you?’

‘The defendant asked whether she minded his age and very quickly told her he was 22. The girl said she lived in Cadley area of Preston.’

The court heard the pair continued chatting using Skype, on which he gave his real name and mobile number and told her about his work.

Rourke then asked for a picture and told her she was ‘super cute’.

He suggested he come round to her house after she said she was home alone, but she said her ‘mother was coming home’.

On February 8, the defendant said he often worked in Preston and suggested they could ‘hang out, go to a park and get some food’. 

He went on to ask if she had ever had a boyfriend.

Mr McEntee said: ‘He used it as a premise for suggesting he could give her lessons in kissing and could show her how to be better.

‘He suggested she engage in a sexual act on herself, giving her instructions.

‘When arrested he said: “I need help – I’ve been really stupid.”

Rourke, who is understood to have been involved with St John’s Church in Leyland, Lancashire, and the global Elevation Church movement, was accompanied to court by relatives and a church minister.

Sentencing, Judge Woolman told him: ‘Fortunately it wasn’t a real person at the end. If it had been I would have no option but to imprison you immediately.

‘You were someone who ran two lives, you come from a good family, you are clearly a devout and God-fearing person, but behind that other side of that wall you indulge in this fantasy life, indulging in talking to young girls.

‘You were not the scheming, manipulative person one might come across. 

‘Nonethless what you have done is unlawful and reprehensible.’