November 2017

Harlow man brought condoms and lube to meet 15-year-old boy

A Harlow man who was busted trying to meet an under-age boy he found on a dating app brought unopened condoms and lube with him.

Roland James Ford, 51, of Wedgewood Drive, Harlow, thought he was meeting a 15-year-old boy by The Stow shopping centre on July 20 this year but was actually caught in an uncover sting.

A male investigator, who works as part of CSE interceptors and specialises in protecting children from sexual exploitation, had set up a fake online profile and waited for communication.

The profile was set up on the gay dating app Grindr, and the investigator used a stock image of a boy who was 15.

Ford then made contact on July 20 under his own account which had his name listed as ‘Harlownow’.

He displayed his age correctly at the time as 50, and sent the first message: ‘Hi’.

The bogus account replied with: ‘Hey’, then the defendant asked ‘You okay?’ and the investigator responded with ‘Other than being bored yeah. Started our school holidays and already bored lol.’

The defendant asked the fake profile how old they were and was told 15, before Ford then said: “Oh sorry I didn’t realise you were that young. Was going to ask if you wanted your **** sucked but I guess you’re too young for that.”

They arrange a time for Ford to pick up the ‘boy’ in his BMW at a car park near where he lives.

At this point, the investigator called Essex Police, who dispatched two police cars to arrest him.

When he was arrested, Ford said: “I wouldn’t do that, I have been done for that before.”

Officers found unused condoms and lubricants in his glove compartment, and found similar items when they conducted a search of his home address.

They analysed his computer and mobile phone and found that the last term he searched for was ‘gay teen tube’, and the last website he visited was: ‘gayboystube.com’.

Ford has had a previous conviction of sexual activity with a male under the age of 16, and had also been given a Sexual Offence Prevention Order (SOPO), preventing him to make any contact with the complainant, and with any male under the age of 16, including through electronic means.

In Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday (November 13), Judge Patricia Lynch QC said: “There is a risk of serious harm of adolescent and young boys with your communication with them over the internet.

“You are sentenced to three years imprisonment which will be extended by a further two years.”

The extended sentence of five years for both counts of arranging commission of a child sex offence, and the breach of a sexual offence prevention order are to run concurrently.

His previous SOPO was then withdrawn and Ford was issued with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) which will run indefinitely.

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