August 2020

Ellesmere Port man began sex chats with four underage girls on Facebook

A pervert who tired to engage in sex chats with underage girls on Facebook who did not realise that three of his four victims were paedophile hunters in disguise has avoided prison after a judge said prison ‘would be too hard for him to cope with’

Christopher Andrew Rylands, 31, lived in Ellesmere Port at the time of his offending in August 2018, when he contacted four girls on Facebook who were said to be under 16.

One of the victims was a 15-year-old girl in real life, but the other three were paedophile hunters who ended up confronting Rylands at his workplace, Chester Crown Court heard on Thursday, August 20.

Rylands, now of Church Street, Frodsham, pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual communication with a child, attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and attempting to incite a child into engaging in sexual activity.

The defendant was spared a prison sentence after the court heard he was a man with no similar type of offending on his record, he had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity, and it had been two years since the offences had taken place.

He was handed a 30-month community order and put on the sex offenders register.

Prosecuting, Frances Willmott said Rylands had contacted one of the paedophile hunters, who had told him they were a 13-year-old girl. He asked if “she was naughty” and sent naked photos of himself and asked for naked pictures of her in return.

With another, Rylands had sent a series of messages to ‘a 14-year-old girl’ and had asked her to perform a sex act for him, as well as asking for naked pictured of her.

Rylands had also messaged another paedophile hunter posing as an underage girl asking if she wanted to see a penis.

In addition, Rylands had messaged a victim who was actually a 15-year-old girl and asked if she wore thongs.

The paedophile hunters had approached Rylands at his workplace and police were called and his devices were seized and investigated.

He accepted all the messaging was his in police interview.

He had a drink-driving offence on his record but none for any offending of this nature, the court heard.

He had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and a pre-sentence report had recommended a lengthy community order as an alternative to custody.

Judge Simon Berkson, sentencing, said: “You have pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted sexual communication with a child, one of attempted incitement to engage a child in sexual activity, and one on engaging in sexual communication with a child.

“All but one count involved adults pretending to be children, acting as paedophile hunters. One involved was an actual child.

“There are a number of points in mitigation and it’s clear prison would be very difficult for you to cope with.

“I was particularly helped by a dispassionate but moving letter from your uncle and a letter from your parents.

“I am able to draw back from a custodial sentence.”

Rylands was handed a 30-month community order to include up to 60 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement and a sex offender group programme.

He was put on the sex offenders register for five years and made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order which prevents Rylands from unsupervised contact with children online.