Paedophile tries to groom 13-year-old girl; ends up speaking to police officer instead

A paedophile was caught trying to groom a 13-year-old schoolgirl on the internet in an undercover police sting.

Christopher James Garrard thought he was chatting online with an underage girl when he made sexual comments, but was actually communicating with a police officer.

Leicester Crown Court was told that the 39-year-old was jailed for 16 months, in 2013, for downloading child pornography and two offences of causing a child to watch a sexual act.

He was already on a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) and subject to having his home address listed on a sex offenders’ register.

When he attempted to groom a 13-year-old schoolgirl, calling herself Olivia, in June and July this year, he had left his mother’s home in Glenfield and “disappeared” off the police radar.

Gordon Aspden, prosecuting, said that Garrard was being supervised by an offender manager, a police officer, who went to see him on June 4.

He said: “The defendant wasn’t there and his mother said he’d left home five weeks earlier.

“She didn’t know where he was and said he wouldn’t be welcome were he to return.”

Meanwhile, Garrard had forged references to obtain a job as an assistant manager at a pub in Rutland.

On July 11, the North East Regional Special Operations Unit, informed Leicestershire Police the defendant had been attempting to make contact with a 13-year-old girl via a teenagers’ chat line – which was being monitored by the police officer posing as the child, Olivia.

Garrard, of no fixed address, made suggestive sexual comments to Olivia.

He asked about her underwear and suggested she send him “teasing” photographs.

In one exchange he wrote: “Just imagining you, I wish I was there.”

Olivia replied: “Don’t you mind I’m 13?” He replied: “If we keep it quiet.”

It was also suggested, as a distant possibility, that they could meet up, said Mr Aspden.

Garrard was jailed for a total of three years and three months.

Judge Nicholas Dean QC extended Garrrard’s 10-year sex offender register order and SHPO to both last for his lifetime.

The defendant pleaded guilty to attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, fraudulently obtaining employment, breaching a SHPO and failing to comply with the sex offender registration.

The judge said that unlike some paedophile vigilante cases, this case involved a trained police officer posing as a child, who gave no encouragement.

He said: “In this case that’s not the position and the running is made entirely by the defendant.

“In vigilante cases we often see a degree of encouragement by the so-called girl and in those cases it might be said, with some force, that the defendant has been led on and encouraged.”

Sentencing, he told Garrard, who appeared via a live video link from prison: “I’m able to observe you on screen and it seems your demeanour is of a man who feels a sense of shame and remorse about his behaviour.

“You’re not unintelligent and you know the behaviour you engaged in can’t be overlooked and must be met by a custodial sentence.

“Your attempt to groom a child, albeit an officer posing as a child, happened when you were on a sexual harm prevention order.

“Your grooming of the child, as you believed her to be, was when you were prohibited by the court from that behaviour and is very serious.

“You also left your mother’s home without indicating where it was that you were going to reside.”

He said that he appreciated Garrard was “desperate” to gain employment which was why he forged references, without revealing his previous convictions, and had not sought to work in an environment that would have brought him into contact with young girls.

Pree Brada, mitigating, said: “This is his first breach of the court’s orders.”

She said Garrard did not receive any rehabilitation treatment during his last sentence, which might have helped to prevent him from re-offending.