January 2018

Pervert who used paedophiles’ chat room tried to arrange child rape

A pervert who tried to arrange the rape of a child after using an online chat room for paedophiles is starting a prison sentence.

Former jewellers’ manager Phillip Dowling, 67, spent months trying to set up the abuse of an internet correspondent’s daughter in a catalogue of sickening chats.

He thought he was talking to a paedophile who would offer up his daughter to be abused, Teesside Crown Court heard yesterday.

In fact, he was sending messages to an undercover police officer.

Prosecutor Richard Bennett said Dowling had used a website to communicate with other paedophiles.

He began talking to an officer who was monitoring the site using the pseudonym “Martin”.

Dowling claimed he had abused underage girls – which he later said was “lies and online bravado” – and sent six indecent pictures to Martin, purportedly of one of the victims.

He sent a picture of himself to the officer, identifying himself as a bisexual from Middlesbrough.

When conversation turned to Martin’s fictitious 11-year-old daughter, Dowling asked if he had shared her with anyone.

He discussed meeting and staying with Martin, sexual activity with his daughter, bringing her gifts and even introducing him as a “long lost relative”.

Dowling made graphic comments about what he wanted to do to her during the communications between May and August 2016.

He said he could not understand people’s attitudes to underage sex and “loved summer because there were so many girls coming out”.

His Middlesbrough home was searched in January last year and 80 indecent images of children found on a USB stick, one on a laptop.

Dowling confessed to police he had a “fascination” with sex involving children.

He said he had amassed a collection of child abuse images over 10 years and visited chat rooms where such pictures were shared, using several usernames.

Dowling admitted making and distributing indecent images of children, arranging or facilitating a child sex offence and possessing a paedophile manual – not a literal manual but arising from the online chats.

Damian Sabino, defending, said: “Thankfully in this scenario no child could have been harmed.

“It was a sting operation. The child did not exist.

“He told the police he would never have been able to go through with anything, that it was all fantasy.

“Visual contact with the undercover officer was a step too far.”

He said Dowling lied about abusing girls and the images he sent were “random pictures from the internet”.

He told how Dowling, who had no previous convictions, originally sought solace in adult pornography and “became desensitised” to it amid an ailing relationship, ill health and erectile dysfunction.

Now he had been “shockingly frank” and honest with probation, was willing to accept help and came to court with references.

Judge Howard Crowson said Dowling had a distorted and abhorrent view of children.

Referring to the bogus girl, he said: “What you were arranging was the rape of a child under 13.

“It’s clear you had an interest in having sexual intercourse with her and a great deal more.

“It could not have taken place because no such 11-year-old existed.

“You pose a real threat to children by acts you would seek to carry out and by your encouragement of others.

“The fact is, every time an indecent image of a child is viewed, it violates the child again.

“They never truly can be eradicated. They are out there in electronic form.

“Your interest in viewing these types of images simply fuels the demand.

“It encourages those who create these images and thus more children are abused.

“Matrimonial breakdown and job insecurity cannot cause a man to behave in the way you have.”

Dowling, latterly of Lowson Street, Darlington, was jailed for four years and 10 months.

He was given a sexual harm prevention order governing his contact with under-16s and internet use, and will be on the sex offenders’ register, both for life.

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