A MAN unknowingly chatted to an undercover police officer on the internet when arranging to meet a young girl at Fosse Park for sex, a court heard.
Richard Bishop, of Deer Acre, Loughborough, fell for the police sting operation, by turning up at the rendezvous point expecting to meet a like-minded paedophile with a 12-year-old daughter “ready and waiting to be abused”.
When the 51-year-old arrived at McDonald’s at Fosse Park in Leicester, he introduced himself to an undercover officer and was promptly arrested.
Leicester Crown Court was told that Bishop had also bought some underwear for the non-existent girl, which was found in the boot of his car.
When the police searched his home they seized his computer, which was found to have accessed child pornography.
Bishop was jailed for a total of eight months. He pleaded guilty to attempting to arrange, or facilitate, the commission of a child sex offence, in May.
Bishop also admitted downloading child pornography relating to 304 indecent images in the most serious bracket, category A, 174 images in category B and 267 in category C, between January 17 and May 23.
Deputy Judge Michael Stokes QC said: “You had the photographs in your possession prior to the events, when you went to meet this 12-year-old child who, fortunately, didn’t exist.
“I strongly suspect the greatest punishment that can befall you for these offences is the fact it’s known by your family and, no doubt, your friends and work colleagues and a lot of other people, who all know what you’ve done.
“I’m quite sure the shame you’ve expressed to the probation officer is genuine.
“This sort of activity where chat rooms or other social media are used to make contact with children is, of course, very serious.
“It seems to me that, had the child existed, there would have been some sexual contact, but how far it would have gone one will never know.
“The fact you bought underwear for her and turned up at McDonald’s indicates you’ve gone much further than some defendants who’ve pleaded guilty to such matters.”
The judge said that some of the child pornography included babies being sexually abused.
He said: “I’ve read references from members of your family including your daughter who is getting married and you’re going to miss the wedding.
“I can understand her distress but I don’t think the 50 days you’ve already spent on remand is adequate.”
Bishop was placed on a five-year sexual offences prevention order.
John Hallissey, prosecuting, said the covert officer began communicating with the defendant via an internet chat room that was “suspected of being used by people wanting to abuse children”.
James Varley, mitigating, said: “It was an attempt to arrange a meeting but we can’t say what would have happened because the child did not exist and there wouldn’t have been a meeting.
“He was in a crisis at the time where everything had come to a head and he was struggling; everything was on the rocks.
“He sought solace in the internet and pornography.
“The chat was just fantasy and whether he would have had the bottle to have done anything, frankly, doesn’t matter.
“The indecent images he viewed and deleted (found in the computer’s recycling basket) had been looked at during a very short space of time.
“He knew it was wrong.”