August 2023

Bolton Man sent sexual messages to who he thought was a girl

A Bolton man who sent sexual messages to what he thought was a 13-year-old has  girl “escaped jail by the skin of his teeth.”

Karl Copeland approached what he thought was the youngster Erin and began to talk to her online.

But he was stung when he found it was a decoy being run by paedophile hunting group Stop UK.

Bolton Crown Court heard in April and May he was in contact with the teenage girl and sent sexual messages.

They first met on Wink then he got her number and they spoke on Whatsapp.

He spoke to what he thought was the young girl called Erin and said he wanted to see her naked.

He urged her to perform sexual activities on herself and said he wished she was older.

Copeland also suggested they meet up in a hotel.

The 34-year-old sent her a video of him performing a sexual activity on himself.

Beth Caunce, prosecuting, said: “On June 1 this year police were called by Stop UK, an online paedophile hunter group.

“They said they had located a male who had been contacting a decoy.”

Copeland, from Dyson Close, Farnworth, appeared in court to be sentenced after admitting attempting to cause a child to watch an image of sexual activity, attempting to cause a child to engage in sexual activity and engaging in sexual activity with a child.

Recorder Jeremy Lasker said: “There is no dispute that she was very quickly told you she was 13.

“Thereafter it is plain to me that you continued this conversation.

“You have every opportunity to cease that conversation.

“The pre-sentence report says there is an alternative to immediate custody.”

He said the probation service suggested a programme to last three years, but he could not do this under a suspended sentence as this could only run for two years.

He imposed a community order to last for three years, ordered Copeland to take part in the sexual offenders’ programme, complete 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days and to do 180 hours of unpaid work.

He also placed Copeland on the sex offenders register and imposed a sexual harm prevention order for seven years.

He said: “You have escaped a prison sentence today by the skin of your teeth.”