May 2022

Pervert used fake online identity so he could groom a 13-year-old schoolgirl

A perverted former college principal and school governor created a fake online identity so he could groom a 13-year-old schoolgirl with sexually explicit messages, a court heard.

Kendal man Stephen Wetton, 62, whose professional work included responsibility for child protection issues, spent 22 days sending explicit sexual messages to the person he believed was a ‘schoolgirl.’

He resigned from his role as director at Settlebeck School Academy Trust and South Westmorland Multi Academy Trust days after his arrest, according to Companies House.

Using the fake name “Lord Percy,” taken from the comedy TV show Blackadder, the defendant lied about his age and urged the girl to perform sex acts.

Throughout it all, Carlisle Crown Court heard, he was unaware that he was actually sending his messages to an under-cover police officer.

Wetton’s conversations included recommending an adult pornography website to the girl as he told her it could help “instruct” her.

Wetton, of Garden Street, Kendal, admitted the following three offences:

* On on April 27, 2020, he attempted to cause or incite a child – a girl aged 13 – to engage in sexual activity.

* That he attempted to cause or incite a child – the same 13-year-old – to engage in sexual activity on May 5, 2020.

* And that he attempted to sexually communicate with a 13-year-old between April 15, 2020 and May 20 of that year, doing so for his own sexual gratification and believing the person was aged 13.

Tim Evans, prosecuting, said that at the time of his offending Wetton was a serving school governor.

His perverted online conversations began on April 16, 2020, when the country was in covid lockdown.

“It lasted for 22 days, ending on May 5, 2020,” said the prosecutor.

Police had created a decoy profile on the messenger service involved and it was abundantly clear, said Mr Evans, that the person Wetton was contacting was a 13-year-old schoolgirl.

Some of his messages were “deeply unpleasant,” said the barrister. In their first chat, Wetton quickly asked the girl how old she was. She replied: ’13.’

He said he was “way older”, prompting her to ask: “Are you 70 or something?” to which he replied that he was 40.

Within a short time, Wetton was recommending porn websites and “generally encouraging sexual activity,” said Mr Evans, who spoke of the defendant’s enthusiasm to contact the girl,

often first thing in the morning.

Some messages began with “Wake up sleepy head” and were followed by him offering explicit guidance on performing sex acts.

Arrested at his home address on May 28, 2020, he gave a no comment interview.

His defence stated to the court that Wetton’s wife was standing by him, adding that one reference described him as “trustworthy, decent and honourable.”

Judge Nicholas Barker said Wetton had understood very quickly he was communicating with a child.

He said: “You asked the person you were speaking within a minute her age. She told you she was 13 years old.”

After lying about his own age, Wetton continued chatting sexually to the child, undeterred by her age. Indeed, it was a “positive attraction” for Wetton, said the judge.

Judge Barker continued: “You know and worked within the education theatre and you had been alive to the sensitivities and the import and the very depraved nature of what you were doing.”

But the judge accepted Wetton’s remorse was genuine and noted his efforts to address his offending.

Wetton briefly opened his eyes, appearing shocked, when the judge said five years in jail was the base sentence for one of his offences.

But after considering all the factors, Judge Barker imposed a 22-month jail term, suspended for two years, with 35 rehabilitation days, 200 hours unpaid work, and a two-month 7pm to 6am curfew.

Wetton will be on the Sex Offender Register for a decade and be subjected to a sexual harm prevention order.

April 2022

Kendal man admits three child sex allegations

A pervert from Kendal has been put on the Sex Offender Register after he admitted three sex offences involving a young child.

Stephen Wetton, 62, of Garden Street, Kendal, entered guilty pleas to three allegations when he appeared before a judge at Carlisle Crown Court. Those offences were outlined in court as follows:

  • That he attempted to cause or incite a child – a girl aged 13 – to engage in sexual activity on April 27, 2020.

  • That he attempted to cause or incite a child – the same 13-year-old – to engage in sexual activity on May 5, 2020.

  • And that he attempted to sexually communicate with a 13-year-old between April 15, 2020 and May 20 of that year, doing so for his own sexual gratification and knowing or believing that the person was aged 13.

Judge Nicholas Barker told the defendant that the period for which the defendant will remain on the Sex Offender Register will be determined by the length and nature of sentence that he ultimately receives.

The judge set the sentencing date as May 26, granting the defendant bail until that day. In the meantime, a background report will be prepared.