A 58-year-old man has been jailed for at least eight months after exchanging sexual messages online with undercover policemen and a member of a paedophile hunters group who he thought to be 13 and 14-year-old girls.
Roger Hicks was told he would serve at least half of the total 16-month sentence for six counts of sexual communications with girls aged under 16 after appearing at Lincoln Crown Court via a video link today (Wednesday, August 12).
The court heard that between June 11 and 19, from his Long Sutton home, he had spoken to two undercover police officers posing as 13-year-old girls after creating online message groups entitled ‘Friends All Ages’.
Prosecuting, Stuart Lody said that while posing with a profile picture of a puppy dog, Hicks had attempted to gain their trust by saying he was a group admin.
The messages became of a “very sexualised nature” Mr Lody said and included the defendant sending pictures of himself, including some carrying out sexual acts, as well as asking for pictures to be sent.
He particularly asked the girls to dress up as school girls, the court heard.
The court also heard that from June 14 to 26, Hicks had been communicating with a member of a paedophile hunters group posing as a 14-year-old girl and sending similar messages.
Mr Lody told the court Mr Hicks was arrested when a member of the group turned up at the defendant’s front door.
“He was confronted, at which point neighbours became agitated and the police were called,” Mr Lody said. “At that stage he was arrested and taken into custody, not only for questioning but also for his own safety.
“It may well be that the paedophile hunters’ actions stalled an ongoing undercover police operation in finding this defendant and it may well be other offenders haven’t been dealt with.”
Hicks had pleaded guilty to the offences at a previous hearing and was described as having no previous convictions, had been in full time work and had been married for the last 20 years.
Defence solicitor Sunil Khanna, said of the defendant: “He was living in his own mind his fantasies and had no intention of meeting these girls.
“He accepts he lost control of himself and couldn’t help himself having started down this road.
“He’s spent six weeks in custody and has had a lot of time to reflect and accepts that he needs help.
“It may have been the right time to catch him.”
Judge John Pini, gave him jail terms of eight months for each charge of obtaining sexual gratification by intentionally communicating with a child, 16 months each for two charges for intentionally inciting a child to look at an image of person engaging in a sexual activity and 16 months each for two charges of inciting a girl to engage in a sexual activity of a non-penetrative nature. All of the sentences are to run concurrently.
He was also ordered to take part in a sexual harm rehabilitation course and police were ordered to destroyed computers and phones they seized from Hicks.
Judge Pini said: “It leads to a total of 16 months of which you will serve half immediately due to the seriousness of the offences.
“You said you like the idea of contacting a genuine girl to chat to as others you had chatted to you believed to be fake.
“That does seem like you intended to talk to real children and this was not just chat or banter.”
Judge Pini said that he was “concerned” that the pre-sentence report described Hicks as “dangerous” but said: “If you look at the lack of previous offences and no intent to meet what you believed to be children I’m not convinced you are dangerous.
“If you do want to get that help in order not to reoffend then it’s up to you to seek it.”