November 2011

Man jailed after sex chats with police officer posing as girl, 14

A PLYMOUTH man who thought he was grooming a 14-year-old girl over the Internet was actually communicating with an undercover police officer, a court heard.

After an increasingly sexualised relationship, Andrew Dixon arranged to meet her at an hotel, but cancelled the date nine days before.

When police swooped, he made full admissions, but claimed that meeting the girl was a fantasy and he had never intended to go through with it.

Crown Prosecution Service prosecutor David Gittins told Plymouth Crown Court that in April 2010, the police were engaged in an ongoing operation targeting men and under-age girls, which involved monitoring chat-rooms.

Dixon visited a chat-room, giving the name homealone069 and contacted a police officer posing as a girl of 14.

He said truthfully that he was 33, and on April 1 they exchanged details, both claiming to live in Devon.

On May 6, they talked for 95 minutes and he said he would like to meet her.

On May 22, he got her to watch as he committed a lewd act in front of his web-cam.

Over the next few weeks this was repeated several times and the conversations became more and more sexual.

He stripped naked and committed the same lewd act, asking her to pose topless for him.

On August 21, he said he would meet her at an hotel in October, asked her for a photo and chatted about sex.

He also asked her to commit a sexual act on herself for him.

They arranged to meet on October 14, but he cancelled on October 5, saying he realised it was wrong at her age and could get him jailed.

Mr Gittins said Dixon was arrested on October 14, claiming that he never really intended to meet the girl and that it was part of an ongoing fantasy.

He later pleaded guilty to three counts of attempting to cause a child to watch a sexual act and one of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity.

Andrew Maitland, for Dixon, said there had been no actual meeting and the cancellation by Dixon was triggered by a realisation that he had gone too far.

There was no question of child pornography, no history of other grooming attempts and Dixon had been assessed as being of low risk of re-offending.

He said Dixon’s fiancee, a mature student at the university of Plymouth, was standing by him.

Judge Francis Gilbert told Dixon, now aged 35 and of Salisbury Road, St Judes: “These offences are serious and must be marked by an immediate custodial term.”

He jailed him for 16 months, ordered him to remain on the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years and imposed a 10-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Outside the court, Det Con Trevor Strike of Devon and Cornwall Police Force Child Exploitation Unit told The Herald: “We are very pleased with this sentence, which hopefully will send a strong message to others.

“We will always investigate cases of grooming and exploiting children, and will endeavour to bring prosecutions against those responsible.”