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Monday, 28 July 2014

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Undercover police sting traps Carlisle pervert

A pervert in his fifties used an online chatroom to have increasingly sexual conversations with a person he thought was a 13-year-old girl – unaware he was being trapped by a Cumbria police sting.

David Harrison photo
David Harrison

Over the course of five weeks, David Harrison, 58, made numerous obscene suggestions to the teenager.

It later emerged that the person on the receiving end of his messages and emails was an undercover police officer who was part of an ongoing crackdown on internet perverts in the county.

A judge put Harrison, of Guilford Crescent, Harraby, Carlisle, on the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years, and imposed a three-year community order with supervision for the whole period.

Harrison had earlier pleaded guilty to three counts of attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity.

At Carlisle Crown Court, prosecutor Gerard Rogerson described how a Cumbrian police officer set up the bogus online account in the girl’s name in January last year.

The account included a profile for the “schoolgirl”, clearly identified as a 13-year-old. The officer logged on to the account on the morning of January 8.

“Just over an hour later she received a notification that a 58-year-old male calling himself Hurdy Gurdy 2 wished to have a private conversation,” said Mr Rogerson.

“He introduced himself as David, aged 57, from Carlisle, and then engaged her in small talk, asking why she was not at school – and asking what she was wearing.

“He quite quickly made mention of her underwear.”

The conversation became sexualised and before logging off Harrison asked for the girl’s private email address.

Over the next five or six weeks, said Mr Rogerson, Harrison had increasingly lewd conversations with the girl, and urged her to commit sex acts.

The three most obscene conversations were represented by each of the charges that he admitted in court, the conversations being on January 19, February 21, and 25.

Referring to the last of those online conversations, Mr Rogerson added: “He said he was nervous because it was against the law and because she was a minor. It would be just their secret. He then made further lewd suggestions.”

Police raided Harrison’s home at 7.45am on March 7, finding him on his laptop even at that time.

He claimed he had known all along he was talking to an adult man, not a child. Harrison told the officers: “I’m just a daft man about the internet. I just got sucked in.”

He later said he had used a chatroom for people aged over 40. Harrison admitted “saying hello” to 14-year-olds online but said there was never any sexual conversation, and he never accessed child pornography. None was found on his computer, the court heard.

David Wales, for Harrison, said his client believed from the outset that the individual involved was not a child – despite his pleas suggesting otherwise.

“He accepts entirely that this is an offence which must cross the custody threshold,” said the lawyer.

Passing sentence, Judge Peter Hughes QC told Harrison: “You engaged in sexualised conversation of the most lewd and disgusting sort.”

After the case, Cumbria police said they were determined to protect children from online perverts. Detective Chief Inspector Rob O’Connor of Cumbria Constabulary said: “Harrison’s arrest was as a result of a proactive operation to ensure that young children can use social media and remain safe.”

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