April 2023

Online sex offender jailed after mobile phone seized by police

The perverted behaviour of 27-year-old Windermere man Callum Spedding came to light after he was taken in by a police sting which involved an undercover officer posing online as a 13-year-old girl.

When police seized the defendant’s digital devices, they discovered that he was also sexually grooming a 13-year-old boy, though the victim was never properly identified.

Spedding, of Mill Brow, Droomer, Windemere, admitted six offences – one count of making an indecent image of a child, two counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual behaviour; and three counts of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.

At Carlisle Crown Court, prosecutor Tim Evans outlined the offences, which were all committed on dates in March, 2020.

The first set of offences related to the police sting, when Spedding began communicating online with a person who repeatedly identified herself as a 13-year-old girl.

During a series of online exchanges over several days, the defendant offered to buy her sweets and other treats – clothing, jewellery, and a phone; and he spoke to her about taking her to McDonald’s.

“It’d be cool to take you out and spoil you,” he told the ‘girl.’ As the contact continued, Spedding’s conversation became increasingly sexual, said Mr Evans. He spoke of wanting to meet her and described explicitly the sexual contact he wanted with her.

The court heard that the defendant encouraged the girl to “practice” certain sex acts in preparation for a potential meeting.

It was after police raided the defendant’s home and arrested him on April 1, 2020, that officers examined his digital devices, they found incriminating evidence that Spedding had also been grooming a boy.

Once again, the communication amounted to sexual grooming, with Spedding discussing sexual matters, including his desire to sexually abuse the child in graphic detail.

Judge Nicholas Barker told Spedding that it was clear that he had genuinely believed he was communicating with children who were aged just 13. On March 20, 2020, he had clearly stepped up his attempt to sexually groom the girl, offering to buy her gifts.

He told the child he wanted to see her in swimwear.

In the days that followed, the communication became increasingly sexualised, with Spedding asking the “child” to send him indecent photos of herself.

The judge noted that Spedding had been “socially isolated” but he rejected the defendant’s claim that his offending was triggered by the pandemic lockdown, given that the illegal behaviour began before the national lockdown.

The judge said: “You were socially isolated and you were suffering mental health conditions and continue to do so.” But a Probation officer had assessed Spedding as posing a “direct risk” to children, given the extent of his efforts to have sexual contact with the two 13-year-olds.

He jailed the defendant for 31 months and put him on the Sex Offender Register indefinitely. Spedding will also be subject to a sexual harm prevention order indefinitely.