March 2007

Man, 54, jailed for web grooming

A 54-year-old man has been jailed for two years for sexually grooming a girl of 14 over the internet.

Married father-of-two Gary Scutchings, of Leyton, London, had admitted travelling to meet the schoolgirl in Llandudno, Conwy.

Caernarfon Crown Court heard that when he went back to the town 13 days later to find her he had handcuffs, a rope and a large knife inside his car.

He was placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years

The judge also banned him from working with children for life and ordered that Scutchings should not use the internet or contact the girl for 10 years.

He is eligible for release from prison in under a year as he has already spent 158 days in custody.

The court heard he struck up a friendship with the girl by pretending to be a youngster called “Sophie”.

Prosecutor Richard Edwards said Scutchings eventually disclosed he was a man after the pair had exchanged e-mails and mobile phone numbers.

At first he said the girl assumed he was 18 or 19, but later he claimed to be 45.

Mr Edwards said: “After the defendant revealed his age he sent some text messages to the victim saying he wanted to make love to her.”

Scutchings – who drove a motorhome for Formula One drivers – threatened to post pictures of her in her home area if she did not meet him, he said.

“Her thoughts were if she met up with him once she wouldn’t have to do so again,” Mr Edwards said.

When Scutchings travelled to Llandudno to see her, he bought the girl a school bag, mobile phone vouchers, and gave her a bracelet and sunglasses.

They held hands, kissed and hugged and talked about “sexual activity,” the court was told.

Mr Edwards said five days later the girl’s mother discovered text messages on the youngster’s phone.

She texted Scutchings to warn him not to contact her daughter again.

But 13 days later Scutchings again drove to north Wales to try to find her.

After being unsuccessful in locating the girl, he stayed overnight at a Llandudno hotel and then returned the following morning to try and spot her as buses left for school, but police arrested him.

Mr Edwards said his car had women’s underwear, Viagra tablets, a bottle of champagne and a disc containing porn images, as well as a bag containing the handcuffs, rope and knife.

The defendant claimed he wore the underwear himself and that the items in the bag were not for any sinister purpose.

When quizzed he denied that he had blackmailed the girl with the threat to post pictures.

Scutchings admitted meeting the girl after sexual grooming, sexual activity with a child, and seven offences of making indecent photographs of children.