July 2021

Man told undercover cop posing as 12-year-old girl they could meet before lockdown ended as ‘not as many people would see them’

An already convicted paedophile told an undercover police officer posing as a 12-year-old girl that they could meet up before lockdown ended as ‘not as many people would see them’.

Craig Prestage, 45, began chatting with the girl known as ‘Becca’ online, where he initially asked what she looked like and sent her ‘kiss’ emojis.

He then suggested they move onto Kik where the conversation turned sexual, Minshull Street Crown Court heard.

Prestage, of Oldham, asked the girl for a nude photograph, then suggested meeting up before lockdown ended.

He said they could do this as ‘not as many people would see them’.

He went on to suggest the girl performed a sexual act on herself and said they ‘wouldn’t need to have sex right away’.

Once he was arrested, officers later found indecent images of children on his mobile phone, along with internet searches suggesting that he’d attempted to wipe his web history.

Prestage pleaded guilty to offences of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity and making indecent photos.

He was today (July 5) jailed for seven years and three months.

Prosecutor David Lees told the court that on March 9 this year, Prestage began chatting with a 12-year-old known as ‘Becca’ over the website ‘ChatAvenue’ using the moniker ‘Fun13’.

What he didn’t realise was that ‘Becca’ was a police officer acting undercover.

“The website requires users to confirm they are between 13 and 19,” Mr Lees said.

“He stated from the outset that he was 45 and from Manchester and asked ‘Becca’ a few questions about herself, and she stated she was 12.

“He sent messages containing the ‘kisses’ emoji and ‘big kiss’ and said they could be friends.

“He gave a description of himself and asked what she looked like and said he would like to see her if he could.”

Prestage went on to ask for the girl’s email address and asked her to send him a picture of herself before suggesting they move the conversation onto Kik.

Using the username ‘CraigPres’ he continued speaking with the girl, the court heard.

He sent her a picture of himself in a leather chair, which was later discovered when he was arrested.

‘Becca’ sent Prestage a photo, later found to be a stock photo, to which he told her it was ‘really cute’ and said: “If I was your age I’d like to have you as my gf”.

“He said he was too old for her, then asked if she had done anything with a boy, the suggestion of sexual activity,” Mr Lees continued.

“When told what that was, he said: “Would you want to do that with me,” then suggested they should meet up once lockdown was over.

“He also asked: “If you don’t mind me asking, do you have a nude photograph?”

The prosecutor added that Prestage asked the girl to perform a sexual activity on herself, then suggested meeting up just before lockdown ended as ‘not as many people would see them’.

He also said that they ‘wouldn’t have to have sex right away’.

On March 19 Prestage was arrested and interviewed by officers, but gave ‘no comment’ replies.

Following analysis of his mobile phone they found one category B image and eight category C images as well as internet searches suggesting that he had tried to wipe his web history.

Prestage was said to have eight previous convictions for 35 offences including attempting to incite a girl under 16 to engage in sexual activity and making indecent photos in 2014 for which he was handed a four-and-a-half year prison sentence.