Scarborough man who attempted to meet a child after 'sex chats' handed a suspended sentence

A Scarborough man who sent 'sexual images' to someone who he believed to be a 13-year-old girl has been handed a suspended sentence after being snared by police.

Monday, 18th October 2021, 12:21 pm
Updated Monday, 18th October 2021, 12:22 pm

John Gilbert, 53, used messaging and dating apps to send "sexualised chats" to a teenager he believed to be 13-years-old between September 2 and 14.

However, he was in fact communicating with a decoy account which had been set up by officers from North Yorkshire Police.

York Magistrates' Court heard that the 53-year-old had made arrangements to meet the girl.

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John Gilbert, 53, pleaded guilty to the three offences at York Magistrates' Court.

He was arrested on September 16 and a search warrant was executed at his home. Police described Mr Gilbert as "a very real danger to society".

Key evidence was recovered from Mr Gilbert's phone, which was examined by the Digital Forensic Unit, and proved that he had been involved in the online child sexual abuse activity.

John Gilbert appeared at York Magistrates' Court on Friday October 15 for sentencing after pleading guilty to three offences included being an adult attempting to meet a girl under 16 years of age following grooming; attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child; and attempting to cause a child aged 13 to 15 to watch/look at an image of sexual activity on September 17.

He was sentenced to six months' imprisonment, suspended for two years.

Police Constable Francesca Diffey, of the Online Abuse and Exploitation Team based at Scarborough which led the investigation, said: "It is clear from the investigation that Gilbert has an active sexual interest in children and that he presents a very real danger to society.

"Through the work of the police, we were able to intervene before he preyed on young victims.

"We have also ensured that Gilbert has been made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and he is on the Sex Offenders’ Register.

"This means he will be closely managed by strict public protection measures."