February 2018

Paedophile who claimed he was grieving for his Chelsea football star stepfather when he tried to meet 14-year-old boy for sex but was caught by vigilantes instead is spared jail

The paedophile stepson of a former Chelsea footballer was spared jail after trying to meet a 14-year-old boy for sex.

Lee Stride, whose stepfather David Stride was a defender for the Blues in the late 1970s, was arranged to meet what he thought was a boy after chatting on Grindr.

But when ‘stupid’ Stride arrived to meet the youngster he was confronted by vigilantes from the group TRAP.

The supermarket worker struck up conversation with a decoy on the gay dating app before arranging to meet him for oral sex. 

Married Stride continued to talk to the ‘boy’ despite being told he was 14, even sending explicit pictures of himself, prosecutor James Kellam told Southampton Crown Court in Hampshire.

‘The defendant fell into conversation with a man with an individual profile on Grindr and who told him he was 14,’ he said.

‘Despite having heard that, the defendant continued to talk to him and to send him pictures, which he himself admits [are his genitalia].’

Mr Kellam said it was ‘quite clear’ the exchange concluded with the pair arranging to meet to have sex.

Two men challenged Stride when he arrived at the arranged meeting point, telling him police were on the way. 

A video of the confrontation was also posted online, which was viewed more than 800,000 times. 

Stride, of no fixed abode, admitted one count of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.

Sentencing him to 12-months behind bars, suspended for two years, Judge Gary Burrell QC told Stride that his wife standing by him was one of the factors that had spared him an immediate jail term.

The judge said: ‘You have the support of your family.

‘In particular, your wife who states, “I still love my husband and want to support him through the difficult time he is going through, including working on our marriage”.

‘In this case there were no real victims. Nevertheless you did not know that and you thought you were in contact with a 14-year-old boy.

‘You sent photos which was a particularly stupid thing to do.

‘You are very lucky to have that support from your wife. She has stood by you in these most difficult of circumstances.’

Stride was placed on the sex offenders’ register and made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for five years.