May 2018

Dunmow man groomed 15-year-old boy on Grindr and arranged to meet for sex in supermarket car park

A man from Dunmow groomed a 15-year-old boy on Grindr and arranged to meet him for sex in a supermarket car park.

Chris Chatters, 48, from Thaxted, was spared jail at Chelmsford Crown Court after he started sexual conversations with an undercover paedophile hunter, posing as a child on the gay dating app.

Chatters struck up a conversation with ‘Ben’ him on the app using the username ‘Cruising’ and also told the hunter his name was Jay.

Once ‘Ben’ had told Chatters his age, the defendant replied: “Age is not a problem.”

The conversation quickly turned sexual, and the pair spoke on a number of messaging apps.

Prosecuting, Mr Crimbs said: “The conversation became highly sexual.

“The defendant clearly discussed penetrative sexual activity and also discussed the child’s sexual habits.

“Ben’s age was confirmed as being 15-years-old. The defendant sent to the person he thought was a 15-year-old boy videos of him masturbating.

“The conversation moved onto them meeting for sexual purposes. It’s quite clear in the meeting that was arranged that the defendant expected penetrative sexual activity.”

On May 15, 2017, the pair arranged to meet in a supermarket car park in Dunmow, although Chatters wanted to go somewhere more discreet at first.

The undercover man then notified police, who arrested Chatters at the scene.

He told officers that he was “doing it for his own good” and wanted to warn ‘Ben’ off from meeting up with older men.

His phone and laptop were seized, and a number of category A, the most serious, and C, the least serious, indecent images were found involving teenage boys.

There was also an extreme video which involved activities with a dog.

Chatters told police in interview that he used gay dating apps and had suspected ‘Ben’ was someone he knew who wanted to expose him as gay, as his family and friends did not know.

He said he wanted to expose that person and had a 15-year-old attended, warned him not to engage in conversation with older men.

Chatters was handed a 15-month sentence, suspended for two years on Monday (May 21).

Before passing sentence, Judge David Pugh said: “You thought you were communicating with a teenage boy and you arranged to meet up and it is clear that the intention was for penetrative sexual activity.

“I have to take into account that this was an attempt and the substantive offence could not have been completed.

“Previously, you were a man of good character. The issue for me is that whatever the sentence I pass, it seems to me you have started to address your behaviour.

Chatters also has to take part in a sex offender treatment programme and complete 140 hours unpaid work.

He will be placed under a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years and was ordered to pay £500 in costs.

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