June 2022

Ex-councillor William Kirkbride jailed for child sex offence after undercover Police sting

A former councillor, described as a “predatory paedophile”, has been jailed after sending explicit messages to an undercover police officer who he thought was a 14-year-old boy.

William Kirkbride, 57, of Queen Street, Whitehaven, was arrested when he went to meet the boy at Whitehaven train station, but police were waiting for him.

Carlisle Crown Court heard that Kirkbride had started messaging the 14-year-old boy, who was actually an undercover officer, on the dating app, Grindr

Daniel Bramhall, prosecuting, told the court that Kirkbride had started the conversation on October 21 last year. The conversation had then turned sexual, with Kirkbride telling the boy he was “in need of some fun”.

The undercover officer had then asked Kirkbride his age, to which Kirkbride said he was 55, although he was 56 at the time. The officer said he was a lot younger and was worried about being blocked from the site.

Kirkbride said he “would not grass” on the boy for being under 16. The officer said, “thanks, I don’t want to be blocked. I’ve never been on this before.”

This was the first time the officer told the defendant he was 14. Kirkbride then told the officer that his first sexual encounter was at the age of 13, with another male.

The officer had then responded, “I’m sorry, I’m too young for you.” He again told Kirkbride that he was 14.

Kirkbride replied, “The law is clear on that but who follows the law these days?”

Mr Bramhall told the court that further messages were exchanged and Kirkbride had then agreed to meet the boy at Whitehaven train station.

The officer enquired what they will do, to which Kirkbride says they can “do whatever he wishes”.

The officer replied that he had never done anything sexual before but “will do anything he wants”. Kirkbride replied, “good”.

The officer then told Kirkbride for a third time that he was 14 and that Kirkbride “probably wanted to meet someone older”.

Kirkbride, a former Labour councillor, who represented the Harbour ward on Copeland Council, had gone to Whitehaven train station to meet the boy on October 27.

But two police officers were waiting, who stopped Kirkbride and placed him in handcuffs.

Kirkbride said to police, “Well, I’m banged to rights, aren’t I? You’ve got me, guv. Am I going to be in Durham for Christmas?”

Mr Bramhall told the court that Kirkbride later said that he did send the messages but believed the boy was over the age of 18.

Kirkbride had previously denied two child sex offences, but changed his plea on the day he was due to stand trial last month.

He admitted attempting to arrange or facilitate the commission of a child sex offence, in an agreed basis of plea with the prosecution.

Passing sentence, Recorder Ian Unsworth QC said: “If it wasn’t for the fact this was a fictitious individual, you would have carried out sexual activities with a 14-year-old boy.

“You were acting as a predatory paedophile on that day. This is a serious matter.”

Kirkbride was sentenced to 28 months in prison. A sexual harm prevention order was imposed, that will restrict his use of the internet indefinitely.

The defendant was placed on the sex offender’s register at his last court appearance.

May 2022

Ex-councillor handed prison sentence warning after admitting child sex crime

A former councillor has been placed on the sex offenders register after changing his plea on the day he was due to stand trial for child sex offences.

William Kirkbride, 57, of Queen Street, Whitehaven, faced charges of attempting to arrange or facilitate the commission of a child sex offence and engaging in sexual communication with a child.

In an agreed basis of plea with the prosecution, Kirkbride pleaded guilty to attempting to arrange or facilitate the commission of a child sex offence on October 27 last year.

He had pleaded not guilty to the charges at a pre-trial hearing held on February 8.

A trial was due to take place at Carlisle Crown today.

The case has now been adjourned until June 10, to allow a pre-sentence report to be prepared by the Probation Service.

Kirkbride has been bailed until his next court appearance.

Recorder Mark Ainsworth, warned Kirkbride that “all options were open” when passing sentence.

He told the defendant: “The fact I’m giving you bail shouldn’t give you an indication of your sentence on June 10. That will be a matter for the judge to decide on the day. All options remain open.”

In the meantime, Kirkbride must not have any unsupervised contact with children, must not use any internet sites to have contact with anyone under 18 and must reside at a named address.