April 2022

Gateshead double amputee OAP spared jail for sex chats with ‘child’ now behind bars for having secret phone

A double amputee pensioner spared prison for sex chats with who he thought was a 12-year-old girl has been jailed for having a secret phone.

Raymond Straughan invited the “child”, who turned out to be a decoy Facebook profile set up by vigilantes, to his home to meet his cats and said he wanted her to move in so they could have sex every night.

He was given a suspended sentence for that and a sexual harm prevention order which meant he had to declare any internet enabled devices to police.

On March 11 last year, risk management officers attended 70-year-old Straughan’s home and he was asked to provide all devices capable of being used to go online.

Matthew Hopkins, prosecuting, told Newcastle Crown Court : “The defendant gave officers a Samsung mobile phone and he confirmed it was his only internet enabled device. Officers became suspicious because the phone appeared to be in factory default state.

“He was asked if he was sure that was his only internet enabled device and he again confirmed it was.” Police went back a few days later and noticed a different mobile phone on a coffee table near Straughan. He initially lied that it was his wife’s phone and she backed him up at first but then admitted it was his.

While there was no illegal material found on the phone he had failed to declare, in breach of the sexual harm prevention order, there was some “sexualised conversation” with adults. Mr Hopkins said: “He said he couldn’t offer an explanation for what he had done.”

Straughan, of Barford Court, Harlow Green, Gateshead, pleaded guilty to breaching the sexual harm prevention order and breaching the suspended sentence. Jailing him for eight months, Judge Christopher Prince said: “You were trying to conceal your online behaviour and the pre-sentence report says this clearly raises concerns about your motivations.”

The judge said it was “concerning” he had lied about the second phone and added: “This was a quite deliberate breach of the sexual harm prevention order.”

It was in late 2018 and early 2019 that Straughan made contact with a girl called Lucy on social media and, despite her apparently tender age, quickly turned the conversation sexual. In the first contact, he asked if she was a virgin and if she wished to explore her body before telling her he wanted to make love to her and that it was allowed because she was classed as an adult from the age of 12.

Fortunately, Lucy was a fake profile set up by an online paedophile hunting group called Stop, rather than a real child. When Straughan was told she wanted to be a vet, he suggested she visit his home to see his pets, before saying he would take her swimming and that they could go to a hotel.

He arranged to meet up with her but pulled out two days beforehand. However, vigilantes turned up at his address and he was driven out, with damage being caused to his home and neighbours being told he was a paedophile.

He was sentenced to nine months suspended for two years and told he must sign the sex offenders register for ten years and will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order for the same period.