July 2023

Paedophile, 54, caught with suitcase full of sex toys near Euston station planning to play ‘sex teacher’ for girl, 13, in West London hotel

A paedophile from Wigan who was arrested with a suitcase full of sex toys near Euston station planned to get a 13-year-old girl drunk and ‘brutalise’ her, a court has heard.

IT worker Mark Sheffield, 54, of Thorley Grove, Standish, groomed young girls on social media and had agreed to meet one near to Starbucks at Euston in February, planning to take her to a hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for his sickening fantasies.

But Sheffield did not realise he was talking to an undercover police officer, who created fake profiles under the names Sophie and Isabella on messaging app Kik.

Despite both girls telling Sheffield they were underage, he sent photos of his penis and asked them to return pictures wearing their school uniforms, Inner London Crown Court heard on Monday (July 17).

In one message, Sheffield wrote: “We will go slow with the experiment. I do not want you to feel afraid. It feels like you are going to sex school and I’m the teacher. I’m very excited.”

After chatting over WhatsApp and Snapchat, promising access to Disney hotels around the world, Sheffield agreed to meet one of the decoys. On February 21 he travelled from Wigan to Euston with a suitcase full of vibrators, sexual performance drugs, contraception, and alcohol, but was knabbed by waiting police officers.

Prosecuting Gregor McKinley told the court how Sheffield responded to his arrest, telling police: “I was only going to meet her, I was not going to do anything, I was only going to meet someone. My life is over, I have ballsed everything up. I thought I was chatting to a child now I realise I was speaking to you lot. You have all the chats and will know what was said.”

Mr McKinley added: “He arranged to meet her. He had also arranged a hotel room, and bought and used tickets to get to London to see her. When he was arrested he had a collection of sex toys, condoms, a bottle of Vodka, lubrication, and Viagra for him.”

Sheffield later told probation officers he did not drink, which Judge Jonathan Higgs KC said had “menacing” implications. He added: “You met up with a 13-year-old girl to have sex with her in all different manner of ways, and intended to do so with copious amounts of Vodka.

After seizing Sheffield’s phone police also found over 20 images of children, of similar ages to the decoys, being raped. Sheffield denied downloading the videos and looking at them, telling the court it was his “policy” to delete such videos when he was sent them. This explanation was rejected by Judge Higgs.

After hearing the prosecution case on Monday, the sentencing was adjourned because Sheffield instructed his defence lawyer Oliver Renton to dispute the basis of his guilty plea. Sheffield took to the stand in a Newton Hearing on Thursday (July 20), said he got “cold feet” in the short time between his last message and being cuffed – claiming he did not intend to carry out his plan.

Explaining his actions, Sheffield told the court he had divorced his wife in 2017, losing his business, home, and contact with his daughter. Then after moving to a new home with his son, in Christmas 2022 he lost £16,000 to a bitcoin scam. He also struck up a relationship with a 25-year-old woman in Ukraine, but she was injured by shrapnel during a Russian attack and they lost contact.

Sheffield then claimed his depression and anxiety meant he could not remember messaging decoys Isabella and Sophie, sending photos of his penis, or packing sex toys into his suitcase. Quizzed by Judge Higgs about his story, Sheffield said: “I just can’t remember the time of doing it, I’m not suggesting that I have not done it.”

Despite sending love heart emojis minutes earlier, Sheffield claimed “it started to dawn on me” after he got off the train and was about to go to a friend’s house before he was arrested by police in the station.

But prosecution barrister Mr McKinley offered an alternative explanation. He said: “What I will suggest to you is that there was no change of plan, the problem is you got caught and can’t face up to it.” Judge Higgs agreed, and said: “His act of deciding to see friends and that he got cold feet, I entirely reject.”

Sentencing Sheffield to four years in prison, Judge Higgs said: “Absolutely nothing in your conduct gave any suggestion whatsoever you would not have willingly carried on with your criminality… You were taking advantage, in the most cruel way, of a 13-year-old girl who you asked to be in school uniform.”