July 2022

Durham pervert jailed after believing he was going to meet 15-year-old prostitute for sex

A pervert with 16 previous convictions has been jailed after turning up to meet what he believed was going to be a 15-year-old prostitute for sex.

Joseph Smith responded to an online advertisement which stated there was a female selling sexual services in his area.

When the 37-year-old called the number provided, he was told that the girl selling sex was in fact only 15-years-old.

But he still decided to go and meet the teen in an area of Durham.

However, what Smith didn’t know, was that the advertisement was false, and had been set up by undercover police.

Smith, of Bracken Field Road, Durham, appeared at Durham Crown Court on Thursday, via link from HMP Durham, to be sentenced for attempting to arrange or facilitate a child sexual offence.

He pleaded guilty to the charge at a previous hearing.

Alec Burns, prosecuting, said as part of an undercover police operation aiming to catch paedophiles, an advert on a selling website was set up that purported to be a female selling sexual services whereby contact was to be made via a phone number.

He said: “On April 25 the defendant called the number twice. He then sent a text message asking what time she started work.”

Mr Burns said that contact was then made over the phone and that Smith called himself “Craig”.

During the conversation, Smith was told that the girl selling sex, was in fact only 15-years-old. Mr Burns said: “The defendant asked if any girls were over 16 and he was told no.”

But Smith was undeterred, and arranged to meet the 15-year-old decoy shortly before 11pm in an area of Framwellgate Moor.

As soon as he arrived, he was greeted by police officers and arrested.

Mr Burns said that when arrested, Smith was found with 980, which he said was to pay for his Manchester United season ticket.

He also told officers that he “wouldn’t have done it” and “didn’t care about kids”. During interview he gave no reply.

The court heard that Smith had 16 previous convictions, including for offences of voyeurism which dated back to 2005.

The court was told that one offence related to him looking under the cubicles at a swimming baths, and another involved him looking into windows and watching women undress.

Sentencing Smith, Recorder Jamie Hill QC said it was an “unusual and exceptional case”, before jailing him for two years. Smith was made subject of a 10 year sexual harm prevention order and will also be on the sex offender’s register for two years.