December 2016

Man snared by online child protection team spared jail

A man who was snared by an online child protection team called ‘Southwest hunters’ posing online as a 14-year-old girl was told he had ‘avoided jail by the skin of his teeth’ today.

Gerald Knight 50, of Alexander Road, Bridgwater had chatted with the fictitious girl and sent her indecent images of himself, including some where he was engaged in a sexual act.

He had previously admitted one charge of attempting to meet a child following grooming activity.

Prosecuting, Nikki Coombe told Taunton Crown Court the fake profile was the identity of a school-girl, with the group clearly telling Knight that she was 14-years-old and telling him about her day at school, spending time with her friends in McDonalds and going out shopping with her mother.

But despite that, Knight talked to her on a daily basis, complimenting her looks and calling her a little princess, before escalating to sending her the photographs of himself.

He told her he wanted to ‘kiss her all over’ and the pair had been arranging to meet – first in Taunton and then in Burnham-on-Sea.

“His behaviour was reported to the police by the group, and Mr Knight then went to the police voluntarily and admitted what he had done,” Mrs Coombe said.

“He said she knew that she was 14-years-old, and he said he never actually had any intention of meeting up with her.”

Sentencing Knight, Judge David Ticehurst told him he had avoided going to be prison by ‘the skin of your teeth’.