A man engaged in an increasingly sexualized online conversation with what he believed to be an underage girl, a court has heard.
But Lucien Cooper was actually talking to an undercover policeman posing as a 13-year-old girl.
Durham Crown Court heard contact was first made via messaging app Kik on February 9 last year, but after a few days switched to Skype, and Cooper was quick to advise that the woman he was chatting with claimed to be 13 years old.
Jonathan Harley, prosecuting, said the tone of the conversation started off very polite, but over a 20-day period from February 9 last year it gradually became more suggestive and Cooper said he ” would love to see a photo” of his correspondent.
He told her he would teach her how to kiss and touch herself, while saying he had a leash he could walk her on, as it would be “fun to treat her like a dog”.
The conversation ended on March 1 after he asked her if she was watching pornography, but he said he would leave her alone then as he prepared for a job interview.
Police came to his home and arrested him on March 9, seizing his mobile phone, which was found hidden under a mattress.
Examination of the phone revealed indecent and prohibited images of children.
Mr Harley said Cooper, who has no previous convictions, made a full confession to his online activities when questioned by police.
The 33-year-old defendant, from Mill Race, West Auckland, admitted trying to entice a girl aged between 13 and 15 to engage in sexual activity and attempting to have sexual communication with a child.
He also admitted three counts of making (uploading) indecent images of children and one of possession of prohibited images of children.
Mitigating Stephen Hamill said the defendant made a confession at the earliest opportunity and, unlike most similar cases, was “coming along” with the police investigation.
“This is a defendant who raised his hand before his devices were examined.”
Mr Hamill said Cooper had also seen his doctor and undertaken counseling sessions independently, which he said had benefited him, in trying to remedy his behavior.
Judge James Adkin said Cooper encouraged what he believed to be a 13-year-old girl to perform sexual acts on herself, “grooming” her, all for her own sexual gratification.
“As far as you are concerned, it was a 13-year-old girl,” Judge Adkin said, adding that the guidelines now state that there should be only a minimum deduction from the sentence for “attempting of activity when the defendants believe the intended victim exists. .
Cooper was also found to have what the judge described as “utterly repulsive” images of children being sexually abused by adults on his phone.
Imposing a 25-month prison sentence, Judge Adkin also made Cooper subject to registration as a sex offender and to the terms of a sexual abuse prevention order, both of which last for ten years.
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