Scarborough man urged 'teenage girls' to perform lewd acts and asked for images - but the 'girls' weren't all they seemed

A “devoted” father and grandfather has been spared jail after engaging in “filthy talk” with two "teenage girls" over the internet.

By Court Reporter
Thursday, 20th February 2020, 12:08 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th February 2020, 12:10 pm

Phillip Wardle, 57, from Scarborough, urged the "girls" to perform lewd acts on themselves, talked to them about sex and asked for sexualised images of themselves, York Crown Court heard.

In fact, the "teenage girls" - who told Wardle they were 13 and 14 years of age respectively - were actually an adult “decoy” posing as children.

Prosecutor David Hall said Wardle contacted the fictitious girls on a chat site. Both girls told him they were under-age teens.

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York Crown Court

After chatting to the "girls" about “sexual matters”, he sent each of the fake children a video of him performing a lewd act on himself.

Wardle, of Hampton Road, told the "girls" he wanted to “see more of them”, preferably in a video, added Mr Hall.

The adult decoy, posing as the two "girls", duly sent him “indecent images” of imaginary girls.

Wardle asked one of the girls if she had left school yet, said Mr Hall.

The decoy passed on Wardle’s profile and details of the conversations to a named vigilante group which roots out internet predators.

“They traced him and detained him in a street in Scarborough,” added Mr Hall.

Wardle made “full admissions” and pleaded guilty to four offences including two counts of attempting to cause a child to watch an image of sexual activity and one count of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child. The offences occurred in February and March last year.

Mr Hall said Wardle had never been in trouble before and there was no attempt to meet up with the "girls".

Defence barrister Joseph Hudson said Wardle was “devastated by his actions”, for which he could give “no good explanation”.

“The real punishment for a 57-year-old man of (previous) good character is the reputational damage and the label which comes with a conviction like this,” added Mr Hudson.

He said Wardle was a “hard-working, devoted father and grandfather, (but that) counts for little now with the label Mr Wardle has brought upon himself and which he has to live with for the rest of his life”.

He said Wardle was very remorseful but he had brought “great shame” on his family, who were standing by him because his behaviour was out of character.

Judge Sean Morris told the smart-suited defendant: “Effectively, you were engaging in filthy talk with teenagers, which is a disgraceful thing to do.”

However, he said he could suspend the inevitable prison sentence because Wardle had no previous convictions, was at a very low risk of reoffending and there had been no attempt to meet up with the “fake girls”.

Mr Morris said he had also noted there had been “no indication of any further interest in under-age girls” other than Wardle’s behaviour during a relatively short spell last year.

The six-month jail sentence was suspended for a year, but Wardle was placed on the sex-offenders’ register and made subject to a three-year sexual-harm prevention order.

He was also ordered to carry out 180 hours’ unpaid work and complete a 40-day rehabilitation programme.