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Paedophile caught by decoy sting has prison term suspended on appeal
A sex-offender who thought he was communicating sexually with a 13-year-old schoolgirl has had a jail sentence suspended on appeal and while a defence barrister accepted culpability is high it might be, “offset by medication which may have increased his inhibitions.”
Stephen Robert Clements (26) from Keenogue Road, Trillick accepted attempting to communicate sexually with a child and attempting to cause her to look at an image of sexual activity.
Offending occurred between 6 October and 1 November 2021 during an undercover sting with a police officer acting as a decoy.
Previously a defence solicitor said he intended to seek an expert report into antidepressant medication prescribed to Clements as “inappropriate conduct seems to be a recognised side-effect.”
While this was abandoned at sentencing, it resurfaced briefly at appeal.
Clements struck up communication with what he thought was a schoolgirl, referring to the profile image as “cute and pretty”.
After sending a facial image of himself, he asked her, “to be cheeky” and share a photograph in her school uniform.
On receipt of this Clements said her skirt was too long and she should undo some shirt buttons.
More images were requested, including in her PE kit with Clements stating: “Wearing less clothes would be better.”
He sent an image of himself in underwear and asked for a photograph of her breasts saying she was “hot, with an amazing body.”
More requests for images followed before Clement sent pictures of his naked genitals asking: “Is it okay if I w*** over your pic at the weekend? Have you ever played with yourself?”
When the decoy enquired: “What are you up to?”, he replied, “having a w***. What about you?”
He asked the decoy to “go to the bathroom and pull down her tights.”
The decoy blocked him when he asked if she performed oral sex would she “spit or swallow”.
Clements was arrested and accepted engaging in sexual communication with what he thought was a child.
At sentencing District Judge Bernie Kelly criticised the prosecution decision not to send the case to crown court, stating: “The maximum sentence is six months custody. That’s one of many reasons why these cases aren’t suitable to the lower court. He believed he was communicating with a child. His entire communication was beyond appropriate, yet he carried on, By law he must get a reduction for his guilty plea.”
Clements was jailed for four months and made subject to Sex-Offender Register and a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) for seven years,
He appealed this at Omagh County Court where the defence stressed: “These are serious matters and culpability is relatively high, maybe slightly offset by the fact my client was taking medication which may have increased his inhibitions during the pandemic. He is a very lonely man who did something extraordinarily stupid and ill-judged.”
Deputy County Court Judge Duncan remarked: “These are serious offences for which the custody threshold is certainly passed. The prison sentence is entirely justified, however I consider it appropriate to suspend for three years.”
Judge Duncan rejected an application for Legal Aid after reviewing Clements’ income from his agricultural business in which he is the majority partner.
Paedo farmer who claimed medication led him to groom girl (13) jailed for four months
A perverted farmer who claimed his depression medication may have led to him contacting a child for sex has been jailed.
Stephen Clements thought he was communicating with a 13-year-old girl when he sent pictures of his penis and asked for naked shots in return.
The 26-year-old, from Keenogue Road, Trillick, was jailed for four months this week after it emerged the ‘teenager’ he thought he was encouraging to commit sex acts was actually a decoy police officer based in England.
The sick dairy farmer already pleaded guilty to attempting to communicate with a female child, encouraging her to reply in a sexual manner for his own gratification and attempting to intentionally cause her to look at an image of a person engaging in sexual activity.
Clements, who had been a senior figure in the Young Farmers Club in Trillick, Co Tyrone, was released on bail to appeal his sentence but risks having his sentence increased as a result.
The presiding judge at Omagh Magistrates Court has already expressed her displeasure at such serious cases as this not being sent to the Crown Court by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) where she would have been able to send him to prison for longer.
Earlier in the case eyebrows were raised by the judge after Clements claimed medication he was taking for depression could have led to the “inappropriate conduct”.
Clements pleaded guilty and the case was adjourned for pre-sentence reports.
This week, details of some of the shocking sexual messages he sent the supposed 13-year-old were read out in court.
Clements had struck up communication with a profile which he thought was the schoolgirl through a chat room last October.
In his first message he asked, “ASL?” (age, sex and location).
The decoy said she was 13 and at school to which he claimed to be 18, Irish but working in Liverpool and his family owned a construction company.
Clements engaged in grooming-type language, telling the decoy her profile image was “cute and pretty”.
He sent a facial image of himself, then asked her, “to be cheeky” and send him a photograph of her in school uniform. On receipt of this Clements told her the skirt was too long and she should undo some of her shirt buttons.
Communication then moved to WhatsApp and the decoy asked if he minded talking to her as she was 13, which he said he had no issue with.
The next day he asked for more images, including in her PE kit. stating: “Wearing less clothes would be better.”
Clements proceeded to send graphic images of his genitals and asked the 13-year-old to send pictures of her naked.
This was followed by Clements sending a further image of his genitalia and requesting more naked images from the decoy.
A few days later he again sent an image of his naked genitals and asked the decoy to “go to the bathroom and pull down her tights”.
He asked her more sexually graphic questions which are too graphic to repeat here but involved a discussion about oral sex.
Clements was arrested and during interview accepted he had been engaging in sexual communication with what he thought was a child.
Judge Kelly said: “It’s totally explicable. The defendant does not understand the difference between a 13-year-old girl and an adult.”
She criticised the PPS for not directing the case to be sent to a higher court, stating: “The maximum sentence I can impose is six months’ custody and that’s one of the many reasons these cases are not suitable to the lower court.
“The defendant believed he was communicating with a 13-year-old girl. His entire strand of communication was beyond appropriate, yet he carried on believing it was a 13-year-old girl. I have a maximum of six months and by law he must get a reduction for his guilty plea.”
Clements will remain on the Sex Offender Register for seven years and made subject to Sexual Offences Prevention Order for the same duration.
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