A Leamington man who was caught attempting to persuade a 13-year-old to engage in sexual activities during an online police sting believed he had ‘done nothing wrong’.
Richard Douglas, 49, of Eden Court, Mason Avenue, Leamington, appeared at Warwick Crown Court on Wednesday (June 27) for sentencing after previously being found guilty.
Despite the trial, a pre-sentence report showed that Douglas still believed that he had ‘done nothing wrong’.
Douglas was given a community order for three years with the conditions that he takes part in a sex offenders’ programme and a rehabilitation activity.
He was also ordered to register as a sex offender for five years, has a sexual harm prevention order in force for 15 years and ordered pay £985 in court costs.
During his trial the jury heard that between September 29 and October 15 last year Douglas was involved in a police sting. He believed during that period he was speaking to a 13-year-old girl, when in reality he was speaking to member of a police team.
It was during this time that Douglas discussed sexual activities with the ‘girl’.
Deputy Judge Richard Griffith-Jones pointed out that Douglas groomed the ‘girl’ in a ‘despicable and chilling’ way, which was also emotionally manipulative.
Richard Davenport, defending, said that in the pre-sentence report Douglas “still refuses to accept that he has done anything wrong”.
But Mr Davenport also pointed out that there were no images on the defendant’s phone or mobile device and that there was no evidence he has had contact with a child. He also said Douglas had no previous convictions and asked the judge to consider a suspended sentence.
Prosecutor Patrick Sullivan suggested there were aggravating features to the offence including Douglas’s grooming behaviour, that he had pushed for an image of the ‘girl’, and that he had anticipated sex.
Mr Sullivan also pointed out that Douglas had also made attempts to dispose of or conceal evidence by telling the ‘girl’ to delete the messages.
The judge said he would not be passing a suspended sentence even though the offence ‘clearly passes the custody threshold’. He said that he wanted to ‘ensure that any sentence eradicates the temptation to behave in this way’.
Judge Griffith-Jones said: “You may find it difficult to face up to the enormity of what you did.
“You’re an intellectual man. You have led a life, which has meant that you have been employed, but also a life in which I sense a degree of social isolation.
“You will have to face up to the reality of what you did otherwise there is a real risk you will sink back into the same pit and do it again.
“You have never been in any trouble before. You spend your work, probably not engaging with other people as you work at night and spend days by yourself with the computer for company. In one sense you are a lucky man because it is reasonably possible this was your first venture in to this sort of perverse engagement.
“You now know that space is being literally policed, and you run the risk of coming into contact not with a 13-year-old girl, but with a police officer or police officers.
“Because the ideas you have may be ingrained, I am going to impose a community order, the purpose of which is to reduce the risk that you will ever do something like this again.”