June 2018

Paedophile snared by his ex-girlfriend

A man whose former partner turned paedophile hunter to catch him arranging to meet children for sex has been spared jail.

David Lawrence thought he was talking to a 15-year-old girl over Facebook when he said he would get a room at a bed and breakfast to meet up with her.

And the 46-year-old also suggested the youngster could bring her little sister and brother, aged 11 and six, for the illicit meeting.

But after hearing Lawrence is extremely suggestible and operates at the mental age of an eight- or nine-year-old, a judge imposed a suspended sentence.

Tessa Hingston, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how the defendant received a friend request from a child called ‘Lauren’ in February this year.

Quite quickly, she said, the talk between them turned sexual and, despite him being told the user’s age, he asked if she wanted to go on to a web cam to see him naked.

Despite her saying she had not seen anything like that as she was only 15 he then asked to see her undressed and then sent her photographs of his exposed body.

He also sent her videos of him performing an intimate act, she said, and made no attempt to hide his face in the images.

In some of the chat logs Lauren said she had a sister aged 11 and a brother, six, and he talked about wanting to involve them in sexual acts too.

Miss Hingston said he talked about coming to meet them, and was told they lived in Newport.

And on the eve of Valentine’s Day he went to the train station to get a quote for a trip to the Welsh town for the following week.

When he was questioned he gave a full account of what he had done and knew it was wrong, saying people who are attracted to children are ‘disgusting, nasty and wrong’.

Lawrence, of Thornford Drive, Westlea, pleaded guilty to attempting to cause a child to engage in and watch sexual activity and attempting to meet a child after grooming.

Passing sentence Judge Jason Taylor QC said “All these offences were committed over a three-day period in February.

“You had previously been in a relationship. When that broke down your former partner, believing you had and interest in children, set up a Facebook account with her new partner. Within minutes that conversation became sexual.

“There is no doubt that you are suggestible.

“You pose a medium risk of harm to children: that will be reduced if your underpinning thoughts and attitudes are addressed.”

He imposed a 14-month jail term, suspended for two years, with 30 days of rehabilitation activity requirement.

He also told Lawrence to register as a sex offender for 10 years and abide by a sexual harm prevention order.