August 2017

Child protection officer jailed for grooming child

A Puckeridge head teacher who sent sexual messages to a journalist posing as a teenage boy on Grindr has been jailed.

Glyn Knowles was acting head of Cambridge International School and child protection officer for a Hertfordshire archery club when he was arrested on July 14 in Bishop’s Stortford.

St Albans Crown Court heard how the 50-year-old thought he was meeting a 15-year-old boy. He had engaged in a conversation about oral sex and asked to see his penis.

But after police were tipped off about the sting operation he was arrested and last month pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a boy under 16 following grooming.

Today (Friday, August 18) Judge Andrew Bright QC sentenced Knowles, of High Street, Puckeridge, to one year in prison.

Prosecuting, Amanda Haynes, said: “He responded to a profile that was placed on (gay dating website) Grindr by an investigative journalist posing as a 15-year-old.”

The reporter (whose publication was not named in court) had taken a stock image of a teenage boy and modified the nose and ears. The username was Young Now and later became Bored.

Their conversation began on June 30 when Knowles sent the message ‘Hey, nice pic, very sexy, what are you looking for?’

The ‘boy’ said his name was Hayden. Knowles said he was called Dave but used an image of himself and did not lie about his age.

‘Hayden’ said he was 15 and lived with his mum. He asked Knowles if that was okay and he replied: “Yes, if that is okay with you” and the teacher later sent a picture revealing his penis.

This preceded a conversation discussing oral sex.

Knowles, at times, appeared to express concerns and wrote: “I am just nervous about meeting a guy so young,” “I said I was a bit too old for you,” and “How come you are not in school?”

But they still arranged to meet in Bishop’s Stortford and police intercepted him at The Causeway.

Ms Haynes continued: “Police made their way to the scene. They got there about 2.35pm.

“He was asked what he was doing. He said he was going to the airport.

“At this stage he began to panic and was fearful.”

But Knowles later changed his line to say he had met someone on Grindr but did not know how young he was.

After his arrest police studied Mr Knowles’ computer and found ‘teen’ was a search term, although the defendant said he was interested in those aged 18 and 19.

He also said he wanted to give ‘Hayden’ advice on how to safely use the internet. This was not believed by the judge.

At one point Knowles, who also worked at a Hertfordshire dive school, attempted to block the conversation but it appears the pair started chatting again.

Chris Whitehouse, mitigating on behalf of Knowles, said his client had shown “genuine remorse,” had already suffered “humiliation and shame,” and was “petrified,” of custody.

Knowles wore a black suit, pale shirt and dark tie. He nervously pressed his hands into his face during proceedings.

Judge Bright decided the category two offence was worthy of greater punishment than the suspended sentence sought by Mr Whitehouse.

Addressing Knowles, the judge said: “You are a man of 50 years of age, not just of good character but as the deputy head teacher of a school you would have been seen as a man of the establishment until very recently.

“This offence is extremely serious. This was a sting operation by a journalist who wanted to bring to justice paedophiles who use the internet.

“What you were doing was taking your reputation in your hands.

“It is difficult to imagine anything more horrendous, that a man in your position (would act like this).

“I have read the chat and it is plain to me you did speak to him with sex in mind.”

Taking into account his early guilty plea and exposure to the “horrors of publicity,” the judge imposed a 12 month prison sentence to start immediately.

Half will be served in custody and half will be on license.

The judge added: “This shows anyone who commits these kind of offences can expect immediate custodial sentences.

“This court has a duty to protect children from the likes of you.”

Knowles was the ‘Designated Safeguarding Lead and Prevent Strategy Lead’ at the school, according to its website.

He was acting principal and said on his staff profile he was “born and raised in Liverpool where I attended the Holt School”.

July 2017

Cambridge headteacher guilty of trying to meet teenage boy he groomed

A Cambridge headteacher who was a child protection officer for his school has pleaded guilty to grooming a young boy and attempting to meet him – but was caught by police.

Glyn Knowles, who was acting head of private Cambridge International School which has campuses in Cherry Hinton, Abington and in Bateman Street, Cambridge, has been sacked immediately and the school has broken the “incredibly shocking news” to parents.

Knowles’ victim had no connection to the school.

The 50-year-old of High Street, Puckeridge, Hertfordshire, appeared before Hatfield Remand Court, based at Hatfield Police Station, on Monday, July 17 where he pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a boy under 16 years of age following grooming (section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003).

Police were called to Bishop’s Stortford at 2.30pm on July 14 to reports a man was attempting to meet a person he believed to be a teenage boy.

Knowles was stopped in a vehicle on The Causeway and arrested.

Cambridge International School is for children aged 3-16 and students come from 32 countries and speak 27 different languages.

In a letter to parents, Nick Rugg, of the International School Partnership which manages the school, said: “I am writing to you further to the release of information regarding Mr Glyn Knowles which has come to our attention over the weekend.

“Based on this information, I wanted to get in touch to let you know that, with immediate effect, Mr Knowles has been dismissed from Cambridge International School.

“Mr Knowles has pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to meet a boy under the age of 16 years of age following grooming (section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003). I can confirm there is no link to any CIS student.