March 2010

Colwyn Bay man groomed 14-year-old boy on internet

A CONVICTED paedophile groomed a 14-year-old boy using a gay chat roomon the internet.

Mark Holcroft had sexually explicit internet conversations with the youngster, and twice tried to meet him.

Police found 14,189 obscene images on the 40-year-old’s computer when they raided his home. He has now been jailed for 33 months and ordered to sign the sex offenders register indefinitely.

Holcroft, of Highfield Road, Colwyn Bay, went on trial at Liverpool Crown Court after he twice drove from North Wales in a bid to meet his victim in the city.

But Jonathan Clarke, prosecuting, told how on the second occasion, November 25 2007, the teenager rang the police, who arrested Holcroft nearby.

When police searched his home they found the obscene images on his computer – more than 13,000 category one images, 829 at category two, three category three, 199 category four and 53 at category five, the most severe level. Holcroft already has a previous conviction for child porn.

He denied grooming and in interview denied going to the meeting point for any sexual motivation. He claimed he’d made the trip purely out of curiosity and as an attempt to flush out the police, because he believed it was some kind of entrapment.

Simon Berkson, defending, said psychiatric reports showed he had no mental health problems and was not regarded as being dangerous.

He said: “This child was never himself put in danger, mainly because of the public-spirited actions of the child.”

He said Holcroft had been very open in the witness box and he said there had been no further offending between his arrest and his conviction.

Sentencing him on Monday, Judge Robert Warnock said: “You have been convicted by the jury in respect of these offences of possessing indecent images and also the more serious offence of sexual grooming.

“Let me make it clear, having presided over your trial, having observed you and having heard from you, I am quite satisfied it was purely fortuitous that you did not actually meet that 14-year-old boy.

“I reject any suggestion you were simply going along to see what was going to happen. You went there with the specific intent to carry out the acts you had discussed on the internet with that youth.”

He added the main aggravating feature was that in July 2000 Holcroft was put on probation for three years for “all but identical offences”. He ordered Holcroft to sign the sex offenders register indefinitely and imposed an indefinite Sexual Offences Prevention Order.