September 2022

Online groomer caught in sting

A paedophile has lost his freedom after being caught messaging ‘underage girls’.

Andrew Clough sent explicit messages to decoys posing as a 14-year-old girl and two 12-year-old girls.

He told one of the ‘girls’ he enjoyed ‘sex talk’ and guided the other two on how to perform a sex act.

But paedophile hunters swooped on his address on October 24 last year before calling the police who arrested him

Now the 45-year-old, of Carlos Close, Cheadle, has been jailed for 36 months for his sickening crimes at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.

Mark Brookes, prosecuting, said: “The decoy was purporting to be a 12-year-old girl and she mentioned school and he said he bet she looked cute in a school uniform. They exchanged numbers and began a conversation on WhatsApp.

“She sent a non-sexual photo and he called her pretty. He asked if she wanted to do sex talk and asked for a picture of her ‘boobs’.

“The defendant said he was horny and asked if she masturbated. He said she should try it and said he can talk her through it and gave her instructions, he told her he was masturbating.

“He also had a chat with a girl who said she was 14-years-old. The conversation moved to WhatsApp and he repeated he liked to sext – she wasn’t sure what it was and said she never did it.

“The defendant asked about her room and whether she wore skirts. He asked what she was wearing to bed and asked her for a selfie.

“He asked if she had kissed a boy or done more than a kiss. He asked her if she had played with her own boobs.

“He asked her what she was wearing and asked her to show it. On another day he asked what she was wearing and she sent two non sexual pictures. He asked if she wore knickers when she wore a nightie.

“It was a hot day and he asked if she was wearing a bikini. He said she was cute.

“He asked if she’d trimmed between her legs and if she’d masturbated. She said ‘no’. He said it’s natural. He gave her instructions.”

Mr Brookes added: “Count three involved a 12-year-old girl. He asked about her nightie and said he was naughty. He told her she was pretty.

“He asked for a picture and she sent one non-sexual image. He sent a picture of himself.

“He said he wanted to see her boobs. He asked if she was in a bikini and asked if she knew what sex was. He said having sex was fun. This was prolonging grooming and soliciting of sexual images.”

Clough pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to cause a child to engage in sexual activity and one count of sexual communication with a child.

Jailing Clough, Judge Sally Hancox told him: “It’s clear you believed you were talking to a 12-year-old girl. There’s no doubt you were seeking sexual conversation and activity.

“There was nothing to suggest you were not talking to children. You know what you’ve done is wrong. You are described as hard working and kind. Your parents say it’s completely out of character.

“I acknowledge that you have completely torn apart your life. It’s exploitative.”

Clough has also been made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO).