‘You are now a sex offender’ – judge tells former Sellafield worker

A former Sellafield worker, exposed as a would-be paedophile by an online police sting, has now lost his home, his family, and his job.

That stark reality was spelled out by a Carlisle Crown Court judge as he passed sentence on 42-year-old John Gibson, who has now started a new life in Carlisle away from his family home in Workington.

He admitted two offences: attempting to engage a child in sexual communication; and attempting to cause a child to watch sexual activity.

Charles Brown, prosecuting, outlined how Gibson was using a social media platform which is popular with young people – including children – when he began communicating with a person he thought was a 13-year-old girl. It was actually an under-cover police officer.

The contact began on December 12 last year when the officer appeared on the website, identifying herself as a 13-year-old girl living in the UK.

Initial conversations were mildly sexualised but as the weeks went by, said Mr Brown, the conversation from Gibson became more explicitly sexual. He sent the ‘girl’ pictures of himself naked from the waist up, and spoke of the child being “sexy”.

By January, the chats were becoming far more sexualised, and he began to quiz the girl about sexual matters. He also sent her a picture of his private parts.

“He discussed the sexual activity he would like to indulge in with her,” said Mr Brown.

He also sent the decoy officer obscene pornographic images of adults and another intimate picture of himself.

Gibson was arrested on February 4 and when interviewed he admitted getting sexual gratification from his online conversations.

Judge Nicholas Barker said he was saddened to see a 42-year-old man of previous good character before the court – a man in middle age who had gone on to a social media platform to seek out young females to engage with sexually and to groom.

“This is undoubtedly what you were doing on this occasion,” said the judge, remarking that it was Gibson who put himself in his current situation.

The defendant had made lewd and disgusting remarks to a person he thought was a 13-year-old girl.

The judge added: “You are a family man; you had employment. That is now lost and that is your fault, and it may prove troublesome for you to obtain it again.”

But the judge said he thought there was a prospect of rehabilitation.

Judge Barker imposed a 16 month jail term, suspending it for two years. Gibson must complete 25 rehabilitation activity days and he will be on the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years and be subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for five years. The judge added: “This is your reality: you are now a sex offender and that has with it a number of implications.”