Father caught in police sting operation after asking to meet ‘12-year-old girl’ for sex

A father-of-three who sent ‘disgusting’ sexually-explicit online messages to what he thought was a 12-year-old girl was caught out in a police sting.

Burnley Crown Court heard how 30-year-old Patrick John Horan, 30, thought he had struck up a conversation with the child on the messenger application “kik” on March 8. But he was actually talking to an undercover police officer.

Prosecuting, Emma Keogh, said: “An officer posed as a 12-year-old girl called Kayla on a public chat room and engaged in conversation with the defendant. From the outset Kayla informed Mr Horan she was 12 years of age. Despite this the conversation continued.”

The court was told Horan, of Brockenhurst Street, Burnley, asked the girl if she had ever performed sexual acts on herself and if she had watched pornography. Ms Keogh said: “He was asking her if she was wearing underwear and if he could have a photograph of her with her knickers on.”

The following day the pair exchanged phone numbers and the messaging continued over Skype. The court was told Horan asked the girl to perform sexual acts on herself and told her pornography sites where she could ‘learn how to do it’.

Ms Keogh said Horan was arrested at work on March 15 at work after sending the girl a message asking to meet up for intercourse. Ms Keogh said police intervened at that point because Horan has a daughter of a similar age.

Police seized two mobile phones but there was no evidence of any conversation with other children.

Defending, Rachel Cooper, said: “He is completely disgusted with himself and really confused as to how he’s come to commit these offences. He realises the hurt he has caused to his work, his family and his childrenHe has had to sit down with his 13-year-old daughter to tell her he might be going to prison.”

Horan pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to engage a child in sexual activity and attempting to cause a child to watch sexual activity. He was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years and made subject of a five-year sexual harm prevention order.

Judge Beverley Lunt said: “You are 30-year-old and before this you were a man of good character.

“Suddenly you engaged in this course of conduct with the most disgusting exchange from you to what you thought was a 12-year-old child.”