March 2011

Teacher snared in police sting jailed for child sex incitement

A PRIMARY school teacher who thought he was trying to incite a 13-year-old girl into committing sex acts was actually contacting an undercover police officer.

Paul Williams, 31, a former teacher at Lakeside Primary School, in Alvaston, was sentenced to eight months in prison yesterday.

He wept as he was led from the dock at Derby Crown Court after a defence speech which pointed out no one had been harmed by his actions.

Martin Hurst, prosecuting, said Williams was caught out when he made indecent comments in an internet chatroom to a girl he believed to be a 13-year-old called Amy.

In fact, he was talking to an undercover officer from Devon and Cornwall Police, who was part of an operation to catch paedophiles.

Mr Hurst said: “Throughout the conversations between the defendant and the officer there were liberal references to her age and matters in her life that would make it obvious to anybody that they were communicating with a 13-year-old girl.”

He said Williams tried to get “Amy” to perform sex acts on herself.

The offences took place between August 23 and September 3 last year.

Mr Hurst said: “If the conversation was between two adults, it could have been considered indecent in the extreme.”

The court heard Williams sent three pictures of himself to “Amy”, two of which were indecent.

Mr Hurst said Williams had taken schoolchildren on camping trips but there had been no complaints about his behaviour.

Williams, of Meadow Lane, Newhall, pleaded guilty to three charges of attempting to incite a 13-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity.

David Webster, in mitigation, said Williams bore none of the tell-tale signs of a paedophile.

He said his computer had more than 180,000 images on it but that none were pictures of children engaged in sexual activity.

And he said Williams had not entered words typically used by paedophiles into internet search engines.

Mr Webster added: “There was no subterfuge. No disguise. The photographs he sent weren’t what they might have been – a Brad Pitt look-a-like. They were of Paul Williams, plain and simple.”

Judge Granville Styler sentenced Williams to eight months in prison.

He said the defendant was “the victim of a police sting”.

But he added that Williams’ offence was particularly serious as he was a teacher and that he committed the crimes “for sexual gratification”.

Williams was put on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years and banned from working with children.

Detective Constable Annie Vernon was in charge of the case for Derbyshire police after the undercover officer passed on information about Williams.

She said: “He deserved a custodial sentence for what he did.”

Williams was suspended from Lakeside Primary School, in London Road, as soon as the charges came to light. He was dismissed before Christmas.

Head teacher Simon Emsley previously said: “The police have advised me that the allegations are not connected with our school or its pupils in any way.”