June 2021

Sexual predator targeted girl, 13, but she was one step ahead of him

A man sent vile sexual messages to a 13-year-old girl and then accused her of lying when she reported him.

Barry Warner, 51, started chatting to the girl but when it became clear the messages were becoming inappropriate, the teenager drew him in just enough to ensure he incriminated herself.

Warner, of Bedford Road, Birkdale, then began to panic – first accusing the girl of lying, then saying it was just a bit of fun, and then pleading with her to delete the messages.

The girl showed the messages to her mum, who reported Warner to police.

At first Warner tried to deny everything to officers, claiming it was “bulls***” and that he thought he was chatting to the girl’s mum.

But his excuses soon collapsed when it was clear from the messages he knew exactly how old the girl was.

Warner, a self-employed heating engineer, pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual communication with a child and appeared at Liverpool Crown Court to be sentenced.

Prosecutor Tom Watson said: “The messages were manipulated by the defendant to become sexual in nature, such as asking to exchange pictures.

“However the girl was astute enough to suspect he was a paedophile and gave him an opportunity to provide further evidence of this.

“She definitely had a level of awareness he was trying to draw her into sexual communications.

“She was one step ahead of him.”

The court heard the incident had had a “significant impact” on the victim, leaving her anxious and causing her to lose weight and become withdrawn.

The judge, Recorder Ian Unsworth QC, told Warner: “From the outset you claimed you thought you were communicating with the girl’s mother. This flies in the face of the evidence.

“You deliberately targeted a young girl – it was pre-planned, predatory sexual behaviour.

“You asked her for pictures, and offered pictures of yourself.

“She was a vulnerable, fragile child. Your motives were purely sexual and the messages were of a vile nature.

“When the game was up, you suggested she was lying, pretended it was a joke, and then pretended you didn’t know the age of the victim when you knew you were dealing with a girl of 13.”

Warner was jailed for 12 months, of which he must serve half and the rest on licence. He was also put on the sex offenders’ register and given a restraining order, both lasting 10 years.