Police officer posing as 12-year-old girl trapped Walsall paedophile
A Walsall paedophile was trapped by a policeman posing on the internet as a 12-year-old girl, a court heard.
Shamed former Royal Navy sailor David Stephenson, who served in three conflicts, thought he was grooming the ‘girl’ and urged her to meet him for sex.
But, unknown to Stephenson, of Stroud Avenue, Willenhall, he was really messaging a police officer posing as a child, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.
The 54-year-old came into contact with ‘Lauren’ through a website called Teen Chat that is supposed to be used by 13 to 19-year-olds, said Mr Howard Searle, prosecuting, who continued: “The defendant knew the girl was under 16 but the conversation, that started innocently, turned sexual.”
Stephenson, a married man with a family, made lewd suggestions and performed a sex act over the web for the ‘girl.’
He claimed to be 45 and divorced – neither of which was true, the court heard.
Their conversations continued for around two weeks before developing sexual connotations, the court heard.
Finally in October last year Stephenson offered to organise a meeting and told her to bring a change of clothing so that she could change from her school uniform in his car, said Mr Searle.
Stephenson served in the Royal Navy for 24 years during The Gulf War and conflicts in the Falklands and Kosovo, said Miss Nicole Steers.
She added: “He had fantasy discussions which were disgusting. He accepts his behaviour was wholly unacceptable and inappropriate. It has shamed him.”
Stephenson pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a girl under the age of 16 following grooming and two charges of attempting to engage in sexual activity with a child.
Judge Peter Barrie told him: “I do not believe you would have talked to a 12-year-old girl in this manner if you were talking face to face but on the internet it becomes easy to abandon all self restraint.
“No harm was done because there was no real girl but, if there had been, it would have been damaging. It was a moment of madness from you.
“My priority is to ensure no real girl becomes a victim of behaviour like this from you and the best way for that to happen is for you to be taught not to offend in such a way.”
Stephenson was given a three-year community order enabling him to complete the accredited Sex Offender Programme and also complete 120 hours unpaid work.
He was ordered to pay £500 towards the cost of the case and put on the Sex Offender Register for five years.