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‘Extremely devious’ predatory paedophile tried to meet teenage girls after grooming them online

An “extremely devious” paedophile tried to groom two teenage girls online and encouraged them to meet with him.

Christopher Walsh, from Barry, contacted online accounts he thought belonged to two teenage girls, aged 13 and 14, in early 2019.

The 41-year-old encouraged the two teenagers to send pictures of themselves in swimming costumes and in the bath, before asking them to meet up with him.

But the accounts were actually decoys used by adults to report predators to the police, a sentencing hearing at Newport Crown Court heard on Friday.

A judge said the evidence suggested Walsh, who has numerous convictions for sexual offences against children, has a “longstanding, entrenched and predatory sexual interest in children”.

Prosecutor Eugene Egan said Walsh contacted the social media account of what he thought was a 14-year-old girl on March 20, 2019.

Mr Egan told the court the person he was actually speaking to was an adult.

“He said that he was 40,” Mr Egan said.

“He asked if she had a boyfriend. He said that he was from Barry in south Wales and suggested they could meet in a hotel.

“He told her to keep their conversation secret. He told her she was beautiful and that he wanted to meet her.”

Mr Egan said Walsh asked to see a picture of the girl in a swimming suit and began to speak to her in “more sexual ways” as time went on.

Walsh later “offered to help her with sex education”.

“He offered to teach her about sex and assured her it wouldn’t hurt her,” Mr Egan said.

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Mr Egan said he also encouraged her to masturbate, before the contact between the two ended on March 20.

The prosecutor said the second offence was also committed with a decoy, this time a social media account purporting to belong to a 13-year-old girl.

Between February 26 and March 30, 2019, Mr Egan said Walsh engaged in repeated communication with the account.

Walsh told the girl he was 40 years old, competed as a cage fighter, and “invited her to Wales for a walk on the beach”.

Mr Egan said Walsh encouraged her to masturbate and take a photograph of herself in the bath.

He also suggested moving nearer her address “to be closer to her” and that he wanted to “play with her flower”.

Walsh was arrested in April 2019, and initially made denials in a police interview.

“The case against him was frankly overwhelming,” Mr Egan said.

Walsh, of Evans Street, Barry, pleaded guilty to two counts of engaging in sexual communication with a child.

The prosecution told the court Walsh has a significant history of similar offending.

In 1999, he was sentenced to 18 months in a young offenders’ institution for an indecent assault on a female under 16.

In March 2002, he received a five-year sentence for two offences of indecent assault of a female under 14.

In 2008, he was convicted of another offence of engaging in sexual activity with a child under 16, for which he received a four-year sentence.

Walsh further failed to comply with registration notification requirements and has received convictions for that, Mr Egan said.

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Andrew Taylor, defending, said his client deserved credit for his early guilty pleas.

“He has a record showing that he is attracted to young women,” Mr Taylor said.

“He has to accept that that is something that is not tolerated in today’s society and so far as the criminal justice system is concerned it will not be tolerated in future.”

Addressing the defendant, Judge Daniel Williams said: “You are 41 years of age with 51 previous convictions including convictions for sexual offences in 1999, 2002, and 2008.

“You pose a high risk of causing sexual harm to children and I’m satisfied on all the evidence that you have a longstanding, entrenched and predatory sexual interest in children.

“You are extremely devious. The spectre of you at your computer keyboard is every parent’s nightmare.”

Walsh was sentenced to two years and three months in prison.

He was made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order and must sign the sex offender’s register, both for a period of 10 years.

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