Man pleads guilty to online child sex offence

13/01/2011

Today at Stafford Crown Court Trevor Neil Barrett, 51, from Rugeley, pleaded guilty to one charge of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity during 2008. Barrett engaged in a number of online "chats" to an undercover police officer from the Metropolitan Police who was posing as a 14 year old girl using the pseudonym "Shelly".

Celia Thorpe, reviewing lawyer for CPS Staffordshire said: "After he was arrested, Barrett initially told police he believed he was communicating with an adult male and that they were simply involved in the mutual exchange of consensual explicit role play. However, the evidence gathered revealed that this was not the case at all; Barrett had first been attracted to "Shellys" profile which clearly depicted a child, not an adult, the content of his persistent communication with her was inappropriate, sexually explicit and made several references to her being a school girl. He sought, via his laptop computer, to persuade her to commit sexual acts in her own bedroom whilst he remained at a distance. In the face of this evidence Barrett has now changed his plea to guilty.

"Fortunately, in this case there was no victim because "Shelly" did not exist but Barrett's behaviour indicates that he was prepared to exploit a child.

"Staffordshire Police have worked closely with their undercover colleagues in London and with Staffordshire CPS to bring Barrett to justice. There may be a misconception that one cannot be prosecuted if one never actually intends to meet up with a child - I hope this conviction serves as a reminder to anyone who involves themselves in any such on line activity that it is illegal to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity even from a remote location.

"We will be applying to the court to make a Sexual Offences Prevention Order to limit any future opportunities that may arise for Defendant to commit sexual offences."

DC Ian McDonack from Staffordshire police said: "Social networks such as Facebook, MSN and other chatrooms are policed regularly by CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) undercover officers. Anywhere the predator will go to find children CEOP officers will follow and actively target those predators.

"People have been seduced by the internet. They think the law doesn't apply whilst they sit in the comfort of their own home. Any individual who thinks that they can carry out this type of crime undetected in the belief that the internet provides them with anonymity is in for a very rude awakening. As predators become increasingly sophisticated in their use of the internet for exploiting young people, so do the techniques we use to detect them. For Barrett this has already proved to be a costly misconception.

"Staffordshire Police will continue to closely work alongside CEOP officers to track and bring to justice those who prey on young victims and to protect greater numbers of children from harm."