January 2023

Paedophile planned to pose as ‘schoolgirl’s’ grandad for meet up at McDonald’s in St Helens

A paedophile from Liverpool has been jailed after attempting to meet up with a ‘schoolgirl’ and telling her they would “pretend to be granddad and granddaughter”.

Harry Croft began speaking to what he thought was a 12-year-old girl on a chatroom in November 2022.

The 61-year-old told the decoy he would pretend to be her grandad if customers or staff at the McDonalds in Newton-le-Willows, in St Helens, became suspicious, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

But, Croft was in fact speaking to an undercover police officer.

Carmel Wilde, prosecuting, said Croft asked to see pictures of her in a “sexy nighty or her birthday suit”.

Croft told the girl, “there are groups out there trying to trap men like me” and said that he was “scared of being found out”.

The pervert also told the decoy: “I’ve always wanted to see what it’s like to be with a young girl. As we get on so well, it’s only natural for us to try.”

Croft, of Turton Close, was arrested on 20 December 2022 at the arranged meeting point in Newton-le-Willows.

During an interview, he said he had been on a website for over 18s and it had been a “fantasy, just playing along”.

He added that he went to McDonald’s to “see if anyone turned up” and that they would “have a laugh” regardless.

Croft admitted attempting sexual communications with a child and arranging a child sex offence.

He was jailed for 30 months, given a 10-year sexual harm prevention order and told to sign the sex offenders’ register for the same period.

Sentencing, the Honorary Recorder of Liverpool Judge Andrew Menary KC said: “The reality is, you recognise there must be a prison sentence for these matters.