Disgraced councillor who asked ’12-year-old girl’ if she wanted ‘naughty fun’ avoids jail
A serving councillor who asked what he thought was a 12-year-old girl in care if she liked “naughty fun” during vile online chat has walked free from court.
Disgraced Paul Middleton contacted the profile of “Maddie” on a chat room, not realising it was a decoy profile set up by police.
A court heard the 44-year-old dad quickly turned the conversation to filth, despite being told the girl was only 12.
When informed she was living at a care home, Middleton made inappropriate comments asking if she’d had sex with any of the boys there.
A judge rejected the former Washington South councillor’s claims the messages were just “jokey banter” and said it was ridiculous to suggest it was “anything other than you seeking sexual gratification.”
Judge Tim Gittins, at Newcastle Crown Court, told him: “You began a one-sided sexualised conversation which included clear references to you engaging in sexual intercourse with a 12-year-old.
“It transpired, in fact, you were not discussing matters with a 12-year-old but with a police officer doing an operation to catch paedophiles.
“You maintained it was jokey banter. I refuse to accept that. It’s ridiculous for you to try to suggest or was done for anything other than you seeking sexual gratification.
“You are an intelligent man who is intelligent enough to know what you were doing was wholly wrong.”
Police had set up the decoy profile on Lycos and Middleton made contact with it in August 2017.
Having revealed his true age, he was told by Maddie she would be 13 on her next birthday.
Jonathan Devlin, prosecuting, said: “The conversation quickly turned to being sexually suggestive.
“He asked what kind of fun she liked and asked whether that was naughty fun.”
After asking if she’d had sex and would like to, Middleton ended the chat, which all took place on one day, and although he went on to send a friend request, they’re was no further communication.
When police arrested him in June last year, he said he vaguely remembered the conversation but maintained it was not done for sexual gratification.
Mr Devlin said: “He said he took a dim view of that sort of behaviour but had lots of problems at home and he described health problems of relatives.
“He continued to deny doing it for sexual gratification and denied having a sexual interest in children.
“He accepted it was an offence to communicate with a child in the way he had.
“He said he was horrified he had engaged in that kind of conversation.”
Middleton, of Sandpiper Close, Ayton, Washington, pleaded guilty to attempting to engage in communication with a child for the purposes of sexual gratification.
He was sentenced to four months suspended for 18 months with a three month curfew. He was also made subject to a sexual harm prevention order and must sign the sex offenders register for seven years.
Disgraced councillor who asked ’12-year-old girl’ if she was into ‘naughty fun’ faces jail
A former Sunderland councillor was snared by police after engaging in an explicit online chat with who he thought was a 12-year-old girl.
Paul Middleton, 44, pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual communication with a child under the age of 16 at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
Middleton, who represented the Washington South ward, was caught as part of a police operation targeting online sexual predators, the court heard on Tuesday.
In December last year, an officer started speaking to Middleton through an online chat forum and identified herself as a 12-year-old girl, the court was told.
The officer told Middleton she would be turning 13 in April, with Middleton saying he was 43.
Prosecutor Rebecca Laverick said there was an online conversation between them that became sexualised, with Middleton asking the girl if she was into “naughty fun”.
Middleton also asked if she’d had sex, Ms Laverick said.
Ms Laverick said this was a serious offence due to Middleton believing the person he was talking to was 12-year-old girl and in a care home, making her particularly vulnerable
District Judge Roger Elsey told Middleton, who wore a black suit and carried a green coat, that he would appear before Newcastle Crown Court on January 10 for sentencing.
Warning Middleton he faced jail time due to the vulnerability of the youngster, Mr Elsey said: “They are likely to consider a lengthy custodial sentence.”
Middleton, who was elected to Sunderland City Council, was suspended by the Labour Party in June, pending a party investigation.
He was then listed as an independent councillor but lost his seat on December 6 after he failed to attend any council meetings for a period of six months.