August 2023

Former pub manager who admitted child sex offence says he ‘hates kids’

A former Southampton pub manager has claimed he chose “what was easy instead of what was right” when he admitted a child sex offence in court.

Phillip Cornock has pleaded guilty to sending sexually explicit messages to who he thought was a boy – but was in fact a vigilante gang.

Cornock said his barrister had advised him to plead guilty.

Cornock, 33, admitted attempting to communicate with a person under 16 for sexual gratification in a hearing at Southampton Crown Court on Wednesday.

The court heard how he had been arrested after a paedophile hunting team went to his house with prosecutor Keely Harvey saying he had been speaking to someone posing as a child.

In his statement Cornock, of Denzil Avenue, Southampton said: “I pleaded guilty because all the evidence is WhatsApp messages and they cannot tell who sent them.

“The barrister advised me to plead guilty when if fact I am not.

“It was not an easy choice to make but I chose what was easy instead of what was right.

“The reason I have made this choice was because I have my family to think about. I know it is not easy for them.

“The abuse they have been getting due to all this was and is unfair they should be left alone as this has nothing to do with them.

“Anyone that has ever known me knows I hate kids.”

Two charges, attempting to meet a boy under the age of 16 and attempting to cause a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity, were dropped by the CPS.

Ms Harvey told the court that the vigilante group had “got ahead of themselves and met him at his address” rather than the JD Sports store where he was due to be meeting the boy.

Cornock added: “When I opened my door a group of guys (claimed) I was trying to meet an unknown male and apparently was sending messages to this individual which I have no knowledge of.

“When the police came I handed them my iWatch, iPhone and Samsung Flip4 and handed them all my passcodes.

“If you think I should have gone to prison for something I have never done just think of this. I have lost my friends, lost my licence to run bars and more.”

He will be sentenced at a later date.