February 2023

Paedophile sent sex chats to underage girl

A “deviant” paedophile who sent sexual chats to an underage girl and asked her to transfer him money has been caged.

Robert William Middlemas was already a registered sex offender when he began speaking to a 14-year-old girl on Snapchat.

Middlesmas sent the vulnerable child explicit pictures of himself and requested she do the same during offending which lasted for a year between February 2020 and February 2021.

The 32-year-old would make frequent video calls to the girl whilst naked and urged her to transfer him money, which she did after borrowing money from friends and family.

Middlemas’ offending left the autistic teen feeling “scared” and “emotionally punished” before he was finally arrested.

On Friday, Middlemas, of Kings Field, Seahouses, Northumberland, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court via link from HMP Durham to be sentenced for engaging in sexual communications with a child, breaching a sexual risk order and possession of indecent images.

The court was told that Middlemas had been a registered sex offender since 2016 and was labelled “high risk” by Northumbria Police. But despite being the subject of a sexual risk order, he began speaking to an underage girl from the Devon area on Snapchat in February 2020. As soon as he struck up a conversation with the girl, he sent her an explicit picture of himself as well as an image involving a dog.

Andrew Finlay, prosecuting, said: “He continued to chat with her and asked if he could become her boyfriend. She told him she was 14 years old and the defendant said he was 28 years old. They exchanged numbers and the victim sent him 30 to 40 images of herself and videos on Snapchat and WhatsApp. They spoke for about a year and made video calls where the defendant would be naked.”

The court heard that Middlemas had discussed meeting up with the girl for sex in a Cornwall hotel, and arrangements were made. The girl then showed up to the hotel but Middlemas didn’t. Mr Finlay said Middlemas sent her a message saying he had attended the hotel but “couldn’t get in touch” with her. It was soon after that he began asking for money.

Mr Finlay continued: “The victim said she sent the defendant money on seven occasions, about £1,000, to re-establish contact since it had slowed down. Her friends helped her obtain money.”

His offending finally came to light in February 2021 when Devon and Cornwall Police spoke to the girl in relation to another matter and her mobile phone was analysed. The messages from Middlemas were discovered and inquiries were then made to Northumbria Police who arrested Middlemas in March 2021.

Following his arrest, his mobile phones and a tablet were seized, with one category A and one category B indecent images being found.

A bank statement was also found that showed money from the girl had gone into his bank account. All of his offending put him in breach of his sexual risk order.

In a victim statement, the girl said throughout the ordeal she felt “scared because of the things he said and made me do”.

She said: “He made me do things I didn’t want to do but felt too scared to say no. He would give me demands of things that I had to do and would tell me how to dress. I felt like he was punishing me emotionally.”

The girl added she “isolated” herself in her bedroom and missed a year of school and her GCSEs due to Middlemas.

The court was told Middlemas had six previous convictions and had been the subject of a suspended sentence, which finished just 18 days before he began speaking to the girl.

Sentencing Middlemas, Recorder Benjamin Nolan KC said the victim was a “very vulnerable child” who was sending him money at his request. He said: “This was a serious and persistent breach. You are a paedophile with a deviant sexual interest in children.”

Middlemas was given an 11-year extended prison sentence, six years of which will be custodial.

A lifelong sexual harm prevention order was also imposed and he will be on the sex offenders’ register for life.