Paedophile texted numbers at random in a bid to groom young girls
Judge David Farrell said a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) was “essential to protect the public, especially children”
David Wagstaff (left) of Norris Road in St Ives was jailed at Cambridge Crown Court on Monday, March 13 (2017).
A paedophile who texted phone numbers at random in a bid to groom children was caught after a man pretending to be a 15-year-old girl contacted Crimestoppers.
Cambridge Crown Court heard that a man from Scotland, who was not named in court, received a text from Cambridgeshire man David Wagstaff simply saying ‘Hi’ on March 23 last year.
The man continued the conversation asking if he could help Wagstaff, but the messages soon became sexual.
David Wagstaff, of Norris Road in St Ives, previously pleaded guilty to intending to incite a child engage in sexual activity.
The 51-year-old was sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court on Monday (March 13) where he was handed an extended sentence of six years. This included 18 months in prison and four and a half years on licence.
Wagstaff was also ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register indefinitely. Judge David Farrell said a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO), which was made for 10 years in a bid to prevent him from re-offending, was “essential to protect the public, especially children”.
Duncan O’Donnell, prosecuting, said: “The man in Scotland was curious to find out who this man was, so replied to his initial text.
“The defendant then asked the man ‘are you female?’. The texts became sexual, and the man received 49 messages, some of which were extremely detailed.
“The man sent a text back saying ‘I’m scared, I’m only 15’, but the texts continued.
“He had established the person he was talking to was called David, was 50 [at the time] and from St Ives in Cambridgeshire.”
Wagstaff’s texts continued, where he told who he believed to be a 15-year-old girl he ‘didn’t want anyone else’, the court was told.
And in a bombardment of texts the next day, Wagstaff asked the recipient of the texts if she wanted to be his girlfriend, said he loved her and asked her to delete texts from him to hide what he had been doing.
The man contacted Crimestoppers to inform them of what was happening. He also spoke to both police in Scotland and Cambridgeshire police.
Wagstaff also asked who he thought to be the young girl if she wore skirts to school. The defendant was still texting the man’s phone when he was in the police station reporting the offence, the court was told.
The defendant, who has previous convictions of a similar nature, was arrested on May 3 last year.
He told police that he made up phone numbers in his head and and waited to see if he got a response, the court was told.
John Farmer, mitigating, said: “The curiosity in this case is that he carried on with the texts when he was told the ‘girl’ was 15, he did not start the conversation because he knew she was underage.
“This is a man with a collection of inadequacies, fundamentally low intelligence and poor social skills.”
Mr Farmer asked Judge Farrell to suspend Wagstaff’s prison sentence, adding: “These are issues that need to be addressed, and they won’t be addressed by sending him to prison.
“It’s in everyone’s interests that he stops doing this, but sending him to prison will not help that.”
However, sentencing Wagstaff, Judge Farrell said immediate custody was justified.
He said the fact that this incident did not actually involve a 15-year-old girl was “bad luck on him and good luck on society”.
He told the defendant: “These texts were clearly acts of grooming. I accept there are some learning difficulties here but they are not such as to excuse your behaviour.
“You knew exactly what you were doing, and that it was wrong.
“In the pre-sentence report it’s plain that you admitted to feeling sexually attracted to young girls, and by comparison to other adults you said ‘I think I like kids more’.
“You were motivated by sexual fantasies which involved teenage children – and there are concerns about your behaviour escalating.”
A spokesperson from independent charity Crimestoppers said: “Whilst we can’t comment on individual cases, if someone is the victim of explicit texts such as these they should always contact police directly.
“However, if someone knows an individual who is sending these types of messages to a minor, then they can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via our non-traceable online form at crimestoppers-uk.org”