A South Holland primary school headteacher accused of sexting and arranging to meet a 14-year-old boy over social media today (Wednesday, May 12) told a jury that he thought the boy was an 18-year-old who was winding him up about his age.
James Shawley, giving evidence on the second day of the trial, told the jury at Lincoln Crown Court that he clicked on the boy’s profile on a dating site thinking it was someone over 18.
He said that during chat the boy, who was actually an undercover police officer, commented that he was 14.
Shawley said: “I thought he was an adult pretending to be younger. I didn’t believe he was 14. I didn’t believe anybody of 14 on an adult app would declare their age so soon in the conversation.
“I thought it was a wind-up.
“I thought the person was 18 or 19.”
The prosecution allege that Shawley sent sexually explicit messages to the account being operated by the undercover officer and then arranged to meet him at a cinema in Huntingdon with the intention that they have sex.
Shawley told the jury he had been a teacher for 22 years.
“I was working as a headteacher at St Bartholomew’s Primary School at West Pinchbeck near Spalding. I’d been headteacher at that school since April 2016.”
Shawley said he was also a qualified FA coach and previously coached Bourne Town Juniors from under 9s to under 16s before coaching a men’s team and then Spalding Under 11s.
He described himself as bi-sexual and said he had been using the dating app on which he met the “boy” for around 10 years.
Shawley, 45, formerly of Hereward Street, Bourne, and now living in Sheffield, denies two charges of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity and further charges of attempting to engage in sexual activity with a child and attempting to facilitate or arrange a child sex offence. The charges relate to dates between 8 and 23 December 2019.
The trial continues.