November 2016

Burnham man used Tinder in bid to get 15-year-old to perform sex acts


A mechanic used Tinder, Instagram and Snapchat in a bid to get a 15-year-old girl to send him naked photos of herself.

Shaun Stone, 23, from The Vines, in Marsh Road, Burnham-on-Crouch, pleaded guilty to causing or inciting the girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to engage in sexual activity and send him indecent images of herself when he appeared in Chelmsford Crown Court on Tuesday (November 22).

Judge Christopher Morgan heard that Stone started speaking to the under-age girl on social media on January 2 of this year, asking her to carry out sex acts on both him and herself, and was only stopped when the girl’s mother spotted the explicit messages.

Katie Armstrong, mitigating, said: “The defendant did not purposefully go out to seek a 15-year-old girl. He was going on Tinder and Facebook to communicate with people. It was initially Instagram and then Snapchat.

“He did make full admissions in his interview. The conversation only lasted for 15 minutes, even though he accepts the impact it could have had. It is on the cusp of grooming but it hasn’t gone as far as grooming.

“He carried on the conversation even though he knew she was 15. He asked would she go with someone if there was a three-year age gap, leading her to believe he was 18 and he accepts that. In no way, shape or form is he attracted to children. This is just something that went too far.”

The court heard that Stone lost his job as a mechanic in Burnham after his initial appearance in Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court last month, and also suffers from mental health issues.

“He has lost people in his life,” Ms Armstrong continued. 

“The reason he went on Snapchat is because he is an isolated person and hasn’t ever had many friends and doesn’t socialise with anyone of his own age. He has had suicidal thoughts.

“He is extremely close to his grandmother and would hate to think this has damaged his relationship with her.

“It can’t be said he didn’t receive any sexual gratification from this, but he doesn’t enjoy a sexual relationship at all. He just enjoys talking about it.”

Passing sentence, Judge Morgan said: “You asked this girl to engage in oral sex with you. You also asked whether she could photograph herself.

“As your counsel has conceded, you received sexual gratification. You came across the victim on social media and started a conversation with her.

“You have developed a limited and closed relationship with the opposite sex and it was against this background that this happened. There is evidence that this would have continued without protection from the girl’s mother. Your sexual gratification came from the nature of the conversation.

“There is no mitigation for the conversation lasting only 15 minutes. It was only when the mother of the child engaged in the conversation and effectively brought it to an end by saying ‘I will call the police’ that you stopped.

“It is suggested on your behalf that there is no grooming, but the grooming comes from your suggestion in the conversation that the victim looked older than she was, that she looked 17 or 18. In those circumstances it is far more likely the child will engage in the activity being incited.”

Stone was handed an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and must also carry out 20 days of rehabilitation, 150 hours of unpaid work and will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order for an indefinite period of time.