July 2021

Ex-nurse in his 80s shared ‘disgusting’ messages with people he thought were girls aged 11 and 13

A former nurse in his 80s engaged in highly sexualised online conversations with people he thought were girls aged 11 and 13, a court has heard.

Thomas Edwards chatted to three separate social media profiles, encouraging the girls to perform sex acts on themselves and to kiss and fondle their friends and telling them he liked “lesbian love”.

In fact the 85-year-old was communicating with decoys set up and operated by so-called paedophile hunters.

Swansea Crown Court heard that at the beginning of August 2019 Edwards made contact with what he thought were young teenage girls online.

Hannah George, prosecuting, said the three profiles were actually run by members of a group called Children Need Protecting.

The court heard the profiles made their purported ages clear to the defendant but over the following days he engaged in sexual conversations with the “girls” – telling them they were gorgeous, asking them about their sexual interests, and encouraging them to perform sex acts on themselves while he “talked them through” what they should do.

Miss George said Edwards encouraged the girls to try kissing and touching their female friends because he liked “lesbian love” and discussed setting up a webcam so he could watch what the girls were doing. He also asked one of them about her underwear and asked another for pictures of her in their nightie.

The court heard that on August 6 members of the group travelled to Edwards’ home to confront him.

The defendant was arrested later that evening and initially gave a “no comment” interview before telling police officers he didn’t have a sexual interest in children.

Thomas Picton Edwards, of Rhoslas, Llangunnor, Carmarthen, had previously pleaded guilty to attempted sexual communication with a child and attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity when he appeared in the dock for sentencing. His failure to attend for two earlier crown court hearings had resulted in arrest warrants being issued.

Judge Paul Thomas QC told the defendant he had engaged in “highly sexualised or, to use another word, disgusting” conversations with what he believed to be young girls.

He said Edwards had tried to portray himself as extremely fragile and in poor physical and mental health but his medical conditions were, in fact, no worse than might be expected of a man of his age.

The judge said it was clear that when Edwards had engaged in the conversations he had “full mental capacity – warped though that was”.

Judge Thomas said the appropriate sentence after trial would have been one of seven years in prison.

He said reducing that as he was obliged to do to account for the defendant’s age and for the extra difficulties of serving a prison sentence in the current Covid pandemic brought the starting point down to four years.

Allowing a one-third discount for the guilty pleas he sentenced Edwards to two years and eight months in prison.

The defendant will serve up to half that period in custody before being released on licence under the UK government’s early release scheme to serve the remainder in the community.

The defendant will be a registered sex offender for the next 10 years and will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order for the same length of time.