December 2018

‘Paedophile was hoping to meet young girl at McDonald’s and take her virginity’

A paedophile who sent “demanding and controlling” Facebook messages to someone he believed to be a schoolgirl tried to meet up with her at a local burger bar, a court has heard.

Shaun Alan Smith believed he was talking online to young girl when he sent her sexual messages and asked for explicit photographs.

In fact the was talking to adults.

Swansea Crown Court heard that on October 15 a man who had his 10-year-old daughter’s photograph as a Facebook profile picture was contacted by 53-year-old Smith.

The man said he was a 14-year-old girl, and the pair began to exchange converse – but the messages from the defendant soon became “demanding and controlling” and the man passed the account to a woman connected to online paedophile hunters group Welsh Warriors.

Helen Randall said the woman continued to play the part of a schoolgirl, with Smith telling her he was the same age as her father and “she was the sort of girl who could get a man into trouble”, asking her whether she had lost her virginity and whether she was wearing knickers, and asking her to send intimate photographs.

The court heard he also talked about meeting the girl, and on one occasion went to a McDonald’s and told his victim he was waiting for her.

Eventually the so-called paedophile hunter went to the police with the details of her conversations, and police arrested the father of four at his home address.

When asked in interview why he had asked in the online conversation if the “girl” was wearing knickers, he said he “wanted to make sure she was properly dressed”.

He said the conversations had “got out of hand”, and he had no intention of meeting the person he was messaging.

Smith, of Glen View, Merlin’s Bridge, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, had previously pleaded guilty to attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, and attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.

Judge Geraint Walters described the defendant’s assertions in interview with probation that he had no sexual interest in the “girl” he had been messaging as “nonsensical”, and he told him he was “in denial”.

The judge said: “Your aim, if you had achieved it, was to take this girl’s virginity.”

For each of the two offences Smith was sentenced to 15 months in prison, the sentences to run concurrently with one another making a total sentence to 15 months. He was also made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for the next 10 years to limit his access to children and to the internet, and must sign the sex offenders register for the same length of time.

Sending him down, the judge added: “There will come a point, I hope, when you will realise how wrong this was, and how much harm you have caused your family. People need to realise they are dealing with life-changing consequences if they are caught engaging in this sort of behaviour.”