April 2017

Ex-professional cricketer who led a secret double life as a predatory sex offender

A former professional county cricketer who led a secret double life as a predatory sex offender nicknamed ‘TrickyDicky69’ was jailed today after he was caught in a sting organised by a team of paedophile hunters.

Former left arm spin bowler Richard Sladdin, 48, who played for both Derbyshire and Somerset during the 1990s, had used an internet dating site to arrange a meeting with someone he thought was a girl of 14 called ‘Claire’.

But he was unmasked when he turned up at a car park 30 miles from home with a packet of crisps, an alcoholic drink and a box of condoms – only to be confronted by a man who showed him his incriminating messages.

Self-proclaimed paedophile hunters Christopher Schofield and Danny Holding filmed the encounter in Leigh, Greater Manchester, on a mobile and the video has since gone viral with more than two million views. 

Vigilantes have since trashed Sladdin’s home and car in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, while his family have been subjected to a hate campaign.

At Bolton Crown Court, Sladdin, who in recent years has played cricket in a local league, was jailed for 12 months after he pleaded guilty to sexual grooming and attempting to meet a girl under the age of 16.

The court heard the spinner had been a member of the online dating site ‘LOVOO’ when last February he began messaging the girl who he believed to be 14, initially asking her whether she was a virgin and whether she liked ‘older men.’

Prosecutor Andrew Mackintosh said: ‘A man who had been concerned about the presence of paedophiles on the site set up a profile posing as a 14 year-old girl called “Claire.” 

‘On the 5th of February he was contacted by the defendant and an exchange of messages between the man and the defendant appeared. At the beginning there is a picture of the defendant with the user name “Trickeydickey69.”

‘The defendant began by saying: “Hiya, how are you? Do you like older men?” To which “Claire” replied: “I am 14 years old, not sure I have ever met one.” That conversation is carried on by the defendant who asked her if she was a virgin and whether she was looking for a “daddy.”

‘There then followed a large number of exchanges between the defendant and the other party who he believed to be a 14 year-old girl. He asked that young girl if she wanted sex and asked her where she lived.

‘He made an arrangement to meet her at her home while her mother was out. He also asked her if she had any pictures of herself to which she said no. Arrangements were made for them to meet the following Saturday.

‘The defendant had asked the young girl if she was on the contraceptive pill and asked her to get condoms. She said she couldn’t get them and he said that he would sort it. He also told her not to tell anyone what was going on as they would get into trouble.

‘On the 11th of February the man who set up the profile was waiting in a car park when the defendant pulled up. He got out carrying some crisps, a drink and a packet of condoms.

‘The man went over and spoke to the defendant and asked what he was doing there to which the defendant said ‘nothing.’ He was asked if he had come to meet a 14 year-old girl called Claire and he showed him the messages from the dating site. Police were called.’

Sladdin gave a no comment interview to police. 

‘The confrontation of the defendant and these two men was filmed on a mobile phone and posted to the internet and quickly went viral with over two million views. The impact of this was that his local community became aware and there was hostility towards his family.

But sentencing Judge Timothy Clayson told Sladdin: ‘It very quickly became apparent that the person you were trying to communicate with was a 14 year-old girl. You had put up your own photo and the messages which then followed demonstrated that you were asking for the young girl to engage in sexual activity.

‘This lead to you making an agreement in which you were expecting to meet this young girl at a time where her mother would be out and you expected to have intercourse with her. You asked her if she had pictures and if she was on the contraceptive pill and you made arrangements to take condoms and alcohol.

‘You pulled into a car park where you were then confronted by the male who set up this posting to which you had responded to. Although there was no actual child at risk, you did intend for a child to be put at risk. I accept that you are remorseful – but you did respond to the message knowing she was 14.

‘Offences relating to sexual activity over the Internet are serious offences for which an immediate custodial sentence must be applied.’

Sladdin played for Derbyshire from 1991 to 1994 but was axed when he recorded figures of 0-190 – the single worst bowling figures in the history of the club. He briefly played for Somerset in 1997 where his First Class country career finished.