January 2015

Already convicted Stroud sex offender joined Oscar Wilde play to get close to schoolgirl

A convicted sex offender joined an amateur dramatics group and took a lead role in an Oscar Wilde play so he could get close to a 15-year-old girl in the cast, a court was told.

James Whittard was banned by court order from joining any group or organisation which would bring him into contact with children but he flouted that ruling in an ‘opportunistic and predatory way,’ Gloucester crown court heard.

Whittard, 20, of Lower Street, Stroud, showed interest in the girl and asked about her even before he took the part in Importance of Being Earnest, said prosecutor Julian Kesner.

He queried how old she was and whether he would get to kiss her as part of the play.

And during the rehearsal and performance period he was ‘overly friendly’ with her and hugged her on numerous occasions, Mr Kesner said.

A woman involved in the production later told police: “I can recall saying to Jim ‘She is a lot younger than you and your behaviour is intimidating. You need to back off.’ He replied ‘Yeh, OK.'”

Whittard pleaded guilty to breaching a sexual offences prevention order by joining the amateur dramatics group knowing that a girl aged 15 was a member.

Judge Euan Ambrose sentenced him to eight months’ jail suspended for 18 months and also placed him under supervision for 18 months.

Whittard’s existing sexual offences prevention order, imposed in January 2012, was due to expire in May 2017 but Judge Ambrose replaced it with a new ten year order which will run until 2025.

He also ordered Whittard to sign the sex offender register for the next ten years.

Whittard was also ordered to pay £200 costs and a £100 surcharge.

Judge Ambrose told Whittard: “You knew from the beginning that there was a teenaged girl in the cast. You were described as being over friendly towards her, hugging her on occasions and asking her for her mobile phone number.

“You were warned about that behaviour by another cast member. “

The judge said there had to be a suspended jail term hanging over Whittard to be a ‘powerful deterrent’ to him to breach the order again.

Whittard had been sentenced in January 2012 for thirteen offences of inciting children under 16 to engage in sexual activity and five charges of making indecent photographs and video images of children.

The court heard he had tricked 13 children – 12 boys and a girl – into stripping off and behaving indecently in front of their webcams as he watched them.

He was aged between 15 and 17 when he committed the offences. He was sentenced to three years supervision with a condition to undergo one-to-one sex offender treatment.

Whittard’s offences were exposed when the mother of one of the boys, aged 10, became suspicious and she posed as her son to have a conversation with him.

October 2014

Stroud sex offender faces court over allegation he joined theatre group

CONVICTED sex offender James Whittard is accused of breaching a sexual offences prevention order by joining a theatre group.

Whittard, 21, of Lower Street, Stroud appeared before the town’s magistrates’ court on Monday, October 20.

He entered no plea to a charge of without reasonable excuse did an act prohibited by a sexual offences prevention order by joining a theatre group which brought him in to contact with persons under the age of 16.

The case was adjourned to Gloucester Crown Court on November 28.

January 2012

Student James Whittard, 18, admits tricking boys into stripping by posing as girls online

FORMER Marling School student James Whittard was given a three year supervision order this week after admitting 13 charges of inciting children under 16 to engage in sexual activity.

Whittard, aged 18, of Lower Street, Stroud, also pleaded guilty to five charges of making indecent photographs and video images of children at levels one and two on a scale of seriousness ranging from one, the least serious, to five, most serious.

Gloucester Crown Court heard on Tuesday, January 17 how Whittard tricked 12 boys aged between 10 and 15 into taking their clothes off in front of webcams by pretending he was a girl.

Whittard, who was aged between 15 and 17 when he committed the offences over a two year period, will undergo treatment as part of the supervision order.

He was also sentenced to a six month electronically tagged 7pm to 5am curfew.

Prosecutor Mary Harley said all the children were local.

Whittard contacted them on MSN and pretended to be a girl called Chelsea or Kerri.

Often he would persuade the boys to take their clothes off by sending pictures of a naked girl which he claimed was him, the court was told.

He would also get them to play ‘truth or dare’ via their webcams.

The other child involved was a girl. Whittard persuaded her to take her top off in front of a webcam, said Mrs Harley.

Sarah Jenkins, for the defence, said the biggest factor in Whittard’s favour was his youth and the fact that he had committed all the offences as a juvenile.

Had he been prosecuted before turning 18, his case would have been dealt with in the youth court, she said.

“The majority of the offending was in the summer of 2010 when he was at home with not much else to do. There was an element of boredom and opportunity,” she said.