May 2023

Child sex offender went to meet ‘girl’ at McDonald’s

A convicted child sex offender who poses a high risk to girls was snared by paedophile hunters twice in the space of a month.

Ryan Lee James Highfield, 37, arranged to meet a ’13-year-old girl’ at McDonald’s in Boscombe.

Highfield had actually been sending messages and making arrangements with an account operated by an adult posing as the schoolgirl

The defendant was stopped by members of the sting group UK database at the fast-food restaurant in Christchurch Road on the evening of October 27, 2022, before being arrested by police.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard he was released under investigation and went on to arrange and meet a decoy pretending to be an 11 or 12-year-old girl at Pokesdown Railway Station on November 20 last year.

Highfield was again met by paedophile hunters and arrested by police, who were aware of the defendant communicating with a ‘girl’ profile run up by a third hunting team organisation.

In total the defendant messaged five ‘girls’, often using the same opening line of “hey, you are stunning”, between August and November.

At the sentencing hearing on Tuesday, May 23, Judge William Mousley KC told Highfield: “You are a high risk to females and in particular to female children.”

The judge said he was satisfied the defendant was a dangerous offender due to the crimes he was being sentenced for, his previous convictions, the contents of a pre-sentence report and his medical records.

In law, dangerous offenders are people who pose a significant risk of serious harm to the public by the commission of further specified offences. They are made subject to extended licence conditions on top of their custodial sentence.

Prosecuting, Stuart Ellacott told the court the defendant had 13 previous convictions for 26 offences dating back to 2000.

Highfield had been subject to a sexual offences prevention order since 2012 after being convicted of sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl and arranging to meet a 13-year-old girl following sexual grooming.

Mr Ellacott detailed some of the messages the defendant sent to the ‘girls’ in his recent offending.

This included him writing “if only you were older”. When asked why by the ‘child’, he said “because I would love to **** you”.

The court heard the age the decoys purported to be was made clear to the defendant during the communication.

In one conversation, he wrote: “I bet you look well sexy in your uniform.”

The defendant indicated he wanted to have penetrative sexual activity with several of the ‘girls’ he was messaging.

Highfield sent a pornographic video and an indecent photograph of himself and invited a ‘child’ to come to his flat.

The offender also asked one of them to send a picture of themselves back to him and to perform a sex act on herself.

“None of these children were real children,” the judge said. “They were adults posing as children.

“Adults attempting to discover and lead to the apprehension of people considered to be paedophiles.”

Highfield, previously of Haviland Road East, Bournemouth, pleaded guilty to five counts of attempted sexual communications with a child, one count of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming, one count of arranging or facilitating commission of a child sex offence, one count of attempting to cause of incite a child to engage in sexual activity, one count of attempting to cause a child to watch a sexual act and five counts of breaching a sexual offences prevention order.

Judge Mousley KC sentenced Highfield to eight years imprisonment, with a three-year extended licence period.

The defendant will not be considered for release by the parole board until he has served five years and four months behind bars.

He was made subject to a sexual harm prevention order and placed on the sex offenders register. Both of these measures were imposed indefinitely.

2017: Now living in Bournemouth


October 2012

Paedophile jailed for four years

A man has been jailed for four years for having sex with a schoolgirl and for grooming a second girl over the internet.

Ryan Highfield, of Wyke Road, Weymouth, admitted two charges of sexual activity with a 14-year-old girl and one of arranging to meet a 13-year-old girl following sexual grooming.

Dorchester Crown Court heard that Highfield, 27, had sexual intercourse with the 14-year-old in July last year, knowing she was under age.

The court was told that Highfield was sending messages to a third schoolgirl, a 12-year-old at the time, while he was on bail for the sexual activity charges.

Prosecutor Carolyn Branford-Wood said the grooming offence took place between June 9 and October 31, 2011, with conversations between the defendant and the victim taking place on the social networking site Facebook.

She said: “The Facebook details and computer equipment having been seized; it becomes clear that there was a great deal of chat between the defendant and the young woman, who at the start was six days short of her 13th birthday.”

The court heard the 13-year-old initially told Highfield she was 23, but later claimed she was 14.

Ms Branford-Wood added that the pair made arrangements several times to meet in public, but the defendant had not turned up.

She said: “On October 26 he said ‘you should stay at mine one night if you like. Your mate can stay too’.

“He said he wants ‘lots of hugs’ when they go back to his place.”

In mitigation, Robert Pawson said: “Mr Highfield pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

“The first contact was from her to him. The behaviour was not, as at first might appear, that of a calculated, predatory, sexual paedophile.

“He would have forced nothing, there would only have been kissing or cuddling.”

Judge Roger Jarvis sentenced Highfield to two years and eight months for the first count of sexual activity, and eight months for the second count of sexual activity, to run concurrently.

He sentenced him to one year and four months for the charge of grooming, to run consecutively.

Judge Jarvis said: “You knew what you were doing was quite wrong. While on bail you continued with the grooming of another young child.

“You were already on bail for serious matters and you kept on with these messages.”

Highfield has been placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.

July 2012

Judge tells Weymouth sex offender to expect ‘significant’ prison sentence

A WEYMOUTH man has been told he faces a ‘significant term of imprisonment’ after admitting sexual offences with girls as young as 12.

Ryan Lee James Highfield, of Wyke Road, pleaded guilty to the charge of arranging to meet a child after sexual grooming when he appeared at Dorchester Crown Court.

The court was told the 26-year-old arranged to meet with the victim, a girl who he knew to be under the age of 16 and who was aged between 12 and 13, on two occasions between June and October last year.

Highfield had previously admitted two charges of sexual activity with a child, which relates to offences that occurred on July 14 last year with a different victim.

At a previous hearing he had denied a charge of rape and he also pleaded not guilty to an offence of assault by penetration involving that same young victim.

Prosecutor Carolyn-Branford Wood said the pleas entered were acceptable to the Crown Prosecution Service and it would not seek a trial on the two offences that Highfield denied.

Robert Pawson, representing Highfield, said his client had admitted the two offences on the basis it was the 14-year-old girl who had instigated the sexual contact.

The case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report to be prepared, with Highfield remanded in custody until August 17.

Judge Roger Jarvis told the defendant: “You have now admitted another serious sexual matter and I require a fuller pre-sentence report dealing with your position in relation to that.

“There is a real likelihood of a very significant term of imprisonment.”

The judge also ordered Highfield be placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register.