February 2015

49-year-old Shropshire man jailed for grooming schoolboy

A married Shropshire man who groomed a schoolboy for sex on the internet and had sexually explicit photographs of the victim has been jailed for a total of three years.

Stephen Wood, 49, also had more than 800 indecent images of children on his computer, Shrewsbury Crown Court heard.

The court was told Wood, who had been married for 25 years, had been “living a lie” and had since accepted his sexuality.

Judge Robin Onions told Wood that he had become aware his victim was a teenager under the age of 16 but had continued with the communications.

“It was an unwise decision. You were the adult and were in a position of trust to protect him,” he said.

Wood, of Vennington, near Shrewsbury, had admitted a charge of sexual grooming, possession of indecent images of the youth and three charges relating to the indecent images of children in May and June 2013.

During a hearing yesterday, the court heard that there was increasing sexual content in online messages between Wood and the victim and the exchange of naked pictures of each other.

Mr Andrew Baker, prosecuting, said that while there was an intention to meet for sexual activity there was never any physical meeting between them.

He said the police became involved when the teenager’s father became aware of what was happening and Wood was arrested.

Mr Stephen Scully, for Wood, said his client had been “living a lie” having been married for 25 years and now accepted his sexuality.

He said Wood had believed the people on the website were all over 18 but had continued when it became clear the victim was under age.

Mr Scully said his client, having revealed his secret life, was now separated from his wife and he had lost his employment and his reputation.