February 2020

Paedophile joked in XXX-rated online chat he could be talking to a police officer – and he was

A paedophile having a sexually explicit online chat with what he thought was an underage girl joked that he could be talking to a police officer – and he was.

Robin Byrne set up a fake profile on Teen Chat Forums, pretending to be a 19-year-old soldier. He had three chats in which he groomed and sent indecent pictures to a user called Little Miss Sparkles, who had told him she was 13.

57-year-old Byrne, who had previously served time in prison for possessing child pornography, appeared at Leicester Crown Court on Monday, where he pleaded guilty to attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity in November 2018, as well as two counts of attempting to engage a child in sexual communications

Prosecutor James Varley said: “Teen Chat Forum is designed for teenagers and not middle-aged men.

“Little Miss Sparkles made the claim she was 13 but that didn’t deter the defendant.”

Describing their third chat, on December 3, 2018, Mr Varley said: “He said he would have to be careful because she might be a police officer. And, of course, she was.”

After he was arrested by Leicestershire Police, Byrne gave no comment and his computers were seized so the case could be built against him.

His previous conviction in 2006, for possessing child porn, had resulted in a 42-month sentence.

Defence said Byrne, of Main Street, Thornton, near Coalville, would lose his job if he was jailed and that he was the main breadwinner for his wife and daughter, working full-time with long hours.

Urging Judge Ebrahim Mooncey to give her client a community order, she said: “We ask that given his remorse that Your Honour allow him to work with the probation service.

“There has been no contact with a real child.”

But the judge jailed Byrne for 16 months.

Imposing the sentence, he said: “When one looks at the communications you had with this fake person it’s very worrying indeed.

“You posed as a 19-year-old soldier and you went onto a forum designed for teens with the aim of talking to a teenager and very quickly you have communications that are very disturbing indeed.

Byrne’s head dropped as the judge told him he would be given jail sentence as well as a 10-year sexual harm prevention order.