April 2015

Trucker who groomed schoolgirl for sex on Facebook was really talking to undercover cop

TRUCKER Iain Smith drove his car to Bath having suggested to 15-year-old Jo Clark they meet for sex.

But instead of schoolgirl Jo it was police waiting for him because it turned out his Facebook friend was actually an undercover internet cop.

Divorced Smith, 47, of Crandell Close in Henbury, shook uncontrollably in the dock at Bristol Crown Court after pleading guilty to grooming a female aged under 16.

Jailing him for 16 months, Judge Michael Longman told him: “I do not accept that you committed the offence because you were not thinking.

“It is quite evident you were thinking very carefully about how to lure Jo into having sexual contact with you.

“You groomed her carefully and deliberately.

“I have to reflect public distaste for offences of this type and the courts need to pass sentences that reassure the public and warn potential offenders that this is behaviour that will not be tolerated.”

The judge told Smith to register as a sex offender for ten years.

Smith was also made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order banning him from unsupervised contact with youngsters.

Neil Treharne, prosecuting, said between November last year and February Smith chatted with Jo Clark on social network internet site Facebook.

Jo, who said she was aged 15 and living with her mother in Bath, was actually a law enforcement officer working for the Bristol Investigations unit targeting online paedophiles.

Mr Treharne said: “During conversations on Facebook the defendant manipulated the conversation to meeting for ‘real cuddles’.

“During the latter part of the conversations he incited Jo to (commit a sex act) on herself and also suggested that they could have sex when they met.”

The undercover officer then received photos of Smith dressed in shorts, with a bare chest.

After that Smith then arranged for them to meet in Bath, and when he arrived at the meeting place police were waiting and he was arrested.

Smith admitted being responsible for the contact, saying he knew she said she was aged 15 as she mentioned she had only just had her birthday.

When he was challenged about the sexual contact of his chats with the girl he said he felt “stupid and pathetic”.

Mr Treharne said: “He denied intending to have sex. He found himself in Bath, in his vehicle, when he had a change of mind.

“He travelled ’round the one-way system and he told police he decided he would only meet her for coffee.

“He said he knew what grooming was.”

The court heard Smith was previously of good character.

Nicholas Wragg, defending, told the court: “In interview he said he was an idiot and stupid in allowing himself to have adult conversations with a young girl. He is ashamed.

“When I saw him we spoke about the potential consequences for the victims and the effect on their future relations and mental health. He was shaking. He is ashamed and he knows what he has done and he is very sorry.”