A sex offender who messaged a ‘13-year-old boy’ asking him to meet him at a public toilet and wear a skirt has been jailed.
But Burnley Crown Court heard how 30-year-old Samuel McLachlan had actually been messaging an undercover officer who had set up a fake Facebook account and posed as the teenager after concerns were raised about the defendant’s ‘deviant sexual interest in young boys’.
There was also concern about McLachlan’s lack of engagement with the police’s sex offender’s management unit and the probation service.
Prosecuting Stephen Parker said McLachlan had accepted the friend request from ‘Ross’ he on June 24 and the following day he sent him a message asking: “Do you have a girlfriend? Are you gay, bi or straight?”
Ross responded by saying he was 13 to which McLachlan replied by saying he was 16 and bisexual but preferred boys. McLachlan then asked Ross if he was circumcised, sent him an explicit photograph and asked the teenager to ‘trade’ one of his own.
After being questioned about his age and then claiming to be 20, McLachlan said: “Do you cross dress? Do you like to wear a skirt? Can we meet up at some point in some public toilets? I could get you to wear a skirt.”
After Ross said he couldn’t send McLachlan a photo because he was ‘unable to get access to his mum’s phone’ the defendant again asked if they could meet up but this time at a swimming pool.
When Ross asked how he would recognise McLachlan the defendant said he could be identified by the explicit photograph he had sent him.
McLachlan then asked Ross if he watched pornography and said they should communicate over live video chat on Skype. In order to avoid himself being exposed, the officer made an excuse about how his mother had disabled the camera on his computer. McLachlan later sent him a link to a website which would allow Ross to change the settings.
The court heard how McLachlan, of Low Bank, Burnley, sent Ross a live video link where the defendant was semi-naked in a garage and performing an explicit act.
During a later conversation McLachlan told Ross he had to be ‘careful because of the age difference’ and said he could be accused of grooming him.
He continued: “I have to be careful. It happened to a friend who was placed on the sex offenders register.”
When challenged about his age again McLachlan claimed he was 28 and Ross again reaffirmed that he was 13.
On June 26, the pair were due to meet up in Preston but McLachlan, who runs a grass cutting and lawnmower repair business, claimed he was unable to because of work commitments.
But later that day he sent Ross another explicit live video link and asked for a naked photograph of the teenager.
McLachlan was arrested and initially answered no comment to questions.
He later said that he needed help and claimed that the only reason he had wanted to live chat with Ross is so he could work out how old he really was. He also said that he was never going to meet up with Ross because he had ‘gotten cold feet’.
The court heard that when police searched McLachlan’s bedroom they had found school uniforms but the defendant claimed he bought them to dress up himself.
McLachlan pleaded guilty to attempting to engage in sexual activity with a child, attempting to meet a boy under 16 following grooming, causing a child age 13 to to look at an image of sexual activity, two counts of attempting to cause a child to engage in sexual activity of a non-penetrative nature and three counts of attempting to engage in sexual activity in the presence of a child under 16.
Describing McLachlan as posing a ‘high risk of serious harm to children’, Judge Philip Parry jailed him for 16 months. He was also made subject of a 10-year sexual harm prevention order and told to sign the sex offenders register for the same period.
Burnley web pervert exposed himself to ‘boy, 13’
A man who thought he was conversing via the internet with a 13-year-old child was actually in contact with the police.
Blackburn magistrates heard Samuel McLachlan attempted to engage in sexual communication with the child and attempted to arrange a meeting with the boy.
McLachlan, 30, of Low Bank, Burnley, pleaded guilty to eight charges involving internet grooming and sexual activity. He was committed in custody to Burnley Crown Court to be sentenced.
Beth Pilling, prosecuting, said it was not the first time McLachlan had committed similar offences.
“In this case he thought he was communicating with a 13-year-old boy but it was in fact the police,” said Miss Pilling. “He exposed himself and asked the boy to remove the shots.