June 2022

Pervert sent sexual messages to ‘schoolgirl’ asking to shower with and wash her

A 60-year-old man sent sexual messages to someone he thought was a 12-year-old girl – but was actually a police officer.

David Atkinson asked the ‘girl’ to perform sex acts on herself online and messaged her about having a shower with her and washing her.

On Tuesday, prosecutor Uzma Khan told Teesside Crown Court that Atkinson began encouraging the girl to visit him and even ‘live with him’, telling her he would pick her up from the train station – in the messages he sent from January 6 to 20.

But Atkinson was chatting to a police decoy, who was working in an operation to identify online paedophiles who groom young children online, and he was arrested shortly afterwards.

Atkinson, of Foxrush Close in Redcar, pleaded guilty to two counts of causing or inciting a child under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity. The court heard that he has a previous conviction for the possession of indecent images of a child.

Andrew Turton, defending, said that Atkinson is remorseful about what he has done and that he acted in “stupidity in the middle of lockdown”. The messages included lots of other topics but Atkinson accepted that there was a ‘sexual element’ to his communication.

Mr Turton said that a probation report had found Atkinson to be of low risk and stated that he could be managed in the community.

But Judge Howard Crowson told Atkinson that he did pose a risk to children and jailed him for three-years and four-months. The judge said: “The 12 day conversation can only be seen as grooming. You were trying to get her to submit to meeting you for sex. But ‘she’ didn’t exist – you were talking to a police officer.”

Judge Crowson also handed Atkinson a sexual harm prevention order, meaning he will never have contact with a child, unless their parents, who know about his convictions, allow it and safeguarding services have approved.

The order also means that Atkinson will be subject to checks from an offender manager, when he is released from prison.

He was ordered to pay £190 in court costs.