February 2021

‘Disgusting’ Leeds paedophile arranged to meet 12-year-old for sex after being sent picture of ‘boy’ in school uniform

A paedophile was arrested at his home in Leeds after an undercover police operation in which an officer pretended to be a 12-year-old boy

Mark Burridge requested naked pictures of the ‘youngster’ and discussed meeting him for sex during online conversations.

Leeds Crown Court heard an uncover officer set up a profile pretending to be a schoolboy called Jacob on a gay dating App called Fabguys.

David Bradshaw, prosecuting, said Burridge made contact with the profile on November 20, 2019, and arrangements were made to message each other on Snapchat.

The 56-year-old defendant contacted the boy the following day and asked him to send pictures of his body as well as sending sexual messages.

The court heard how the messages became more graphic and depraved over the following days.

Burridge sent messages on December 16 to discuss meeting up with the boy and his friend for sex.

Officers arrested Burridge at his home on January 20 last year and seized his iPhone and laptop.

Evidence was found that he had used the devices to access the FabGuys App.

Burridge was interviewed and claimed he thought he was in contact with an 18-year-old boy and did not believe he was doing anything illegal.

Judge Penelope Belcher rejected Burridge’s account after hearing how the defendant continued to send sexual messages after being sent images of a youngster wearing a school uniform.

Burridge, of The Chandlers, in Leeds city centre, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to incite a child under 16 to commit a sexual act and one of attempting to converse sexually with a child under 16.

Burridge was made the subject of a three-year community order, to include him attending an Horizon sex offender programme.

He must also complete 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

Judge Belcher said: “You did not know that ‘Jacob’ did not exist and you asked to meet up with him in order to have sexual activity.

“He was underage and significantly so.

“You are 56 years of age. This is a massive age gap and something the court must take in to account when sentencing defendants for sexual offences against children.”

The judge added: “I am not going to send you to custody, as disgusting as these offences are.

“The public interest might be served better by you engaging in a community order to ensure that you can get treatment”