March 2021

Gosport ex-Royal Navy commander made an MBE by the Queen spared jail after paedophile hunter sting

Paedophile hunters posing as a 14-year-old boy on a gay hookup app snared a former naval officer honoured with an MBE from the Queen.

Former Lieutenant Commander Graham Trewhella, who was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours, thought he was meeting the boy when he set out into the night in Gosport after arranging the meeting on Grindr.

But when he arrived to meet a boy named George he was stunned to find a man from paedophile hunter group Trap who had been posing as the decoy child.

Police were called and arrested 62-year-old Trewhella, of Grove Road in Gosport, later searching his Dell computer and finding nearly 1,100 indecent images of children.

In a video posted by Trap the man posing as George said: ‘You’ve thrown away your life.’

Trewhella looks shocked and can barely answer in the video posted to social media but said: ‘I don’t do anything outside, I wasn’t going to do anything.’

Later speaking to probation the dad-of-three said: ‘‘What I’ve done was absolutely wrong, it’s unbelievably irresponsible.

‘When I look at what I’ve done now it horrifies me.’

Portsmouth Crown Court heard shamed Trewhella had actually been messaging the group known as Trap.

In one message on the app, where Trewhella used photos of himself, the disgraced naval officer told the fake boy he wanted ‘maybe (sex) later’.

‘The person posing as George made it plain that he was only 14 and asked whether the defendant would be happy with that and he said that he was,’ prosecutor Nicholas Hall said.

‘This went on for certainly over two days.’

Mr Hall said following the arrest in October 28, 2017, police found 329 indecent images of children rated at category A, the most severe.

There were 255 at B and 512 at rated in category C. Analysis found his searches for perverted images dated back to 2015.

The judge, Recorder Simon Levene, suspended the 17-month jail sentence for two years as the risk of reoffending would be ‘greatly reduced by programmes which the probation service have to offer’.

Addressing Trewhella, he said: ‘You are deeply ashamed and very, very embarrassed- not just at being caught but at what now, you can take a step back, what you realise you’ve been up to over the last few years.

‘I accept that this is a case where I can suspend the sentence because I think that you fall into that category of offender who can be helped.’

Jailing him would do ‘nothing towards his rehabilitation’ and there was a risk that sex criminals in prison could make him a worse offender, the judge said.