August 2020

Paedophile warned decoy ‘you’re leaving yourself open for perverts’

A paedophile who warned an online decoy ‘you’re leaving yourself open for perverts’ while attempting to engage in sexual communication has been handed a suspended prison sentence.

John Irving was caught on four occasions by women pretending to be 14, 13 and 12-year-old girls on behalf of paedophile hunter groups.

The 56-year-old was arrested in Inverness Road, Ipswich, after being confronted by the team of hunters on July 4 last year.

Irving, now of Walton Road, Clacton, admitted four counts of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a girl under 16 at an earlier hearing.

On Wednesday, he returned to Ipswich Crown Court to receive an eight-month jail term, suspended for two years, with 120 hours of unpaid work and 40 days of rehabilitation activity.

The court heard how Irving engaged decoys through the Skout social networking and dating app with the same opening message: “Hey beautiful, sexy girl. Liked your photo. Would like to give you hugs from me and kiss your lips.”

Subsequent messages included requests for naked photos and for the decoys to engage in sexual activity.

On one occasion, Irving noted the decoy’s profile sated her age as 19, but continued sending sexual messages after she claimed to be 13, and warned she was “leaving herself open for perverts” by keeping her profile on the site.

Judge Rupert Overbury called Irving’s preoccupation with children “extremely unhealthy and harmful”, adding: “Although there was no actual conduct or meeting, there were elements of grooming and suggestions of full penetrative sexual activity.

“I believe you are genuinely ashamed of what you did.

“If you even think about committing these offences again, you will find yourself immediately in prison.”

Irving, who the probation service deemed a low risk of re-offending, will have to sign the sex offenders’ register and be the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years.