Churchgoer groomed child on the internet

Jailed: James Duncan was caught in online sting
Jailed: James Duncan was caught in online sting
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A married church-goer who encouraged a 12-year-old girl he met on an internet chat room to participate in sexual activity was chatting to an undercover police officer.

Preston Crown Court heard James Duncan, 34, of Threefields, Ingol, was caught out by investigators asking the fictitious child: “Are you a swimsuit or a bikini girl?”

Duncan, wearing a navy blue polo shirt and tracksuit bottoms, previously admitted two counts of inciting a 12-year-old to engage in sexual activity concerning two online conversations via the ‘child’s’ Skype account in July and was sentenced to 16 months by Judge Stuart Baker last week.

Prosecuting, Emma Kehoe said: “This case involved an undercover operation by the police. The child in the case was fictitious, hence the offences are attempts. It’s over a five-week period he has engaged in private chats with these girls, whom he believed to be a 12-year-old girl. He was made aware continually throughout the chats that he was talking to a 12-year-old girl. These chats have included sexual conversations. He has asked what she was wearing on various occasions, asking if she was a swimsuit girl or a bikini girl.

“The discussions are referred to as rude adults talk. He actively encourages her to conceal these conversations from her family. He talks a lot about meeting up with her but is very cagey when he asks to meet her, saying things like ‘maybe we shouldn’t’.

“He has to be careful and that he certainly would meet her if he “was her age” – a clear inference he knows what he is doing is wrong.”

She added: “The last conversation took place on July 22. He suggested maybe a swimming baths and asked had she ever been thinking of him in a “dirty way”. It was after this conversation that a warrant was obtained.”

Duncan was arrested on July 24. The court heard in interview he accepted he had chatted to girls who were young and accepted he had answered questions they had asked of him. He told police the girls were “inquisitive.”

Defending, Darren Lee Smith said his family were supportive and he recognised the shame he had brought on the congregation at the evangelist church he attended.

Judge Baker said: “Its a very sad occasion when a man of your age with a wife and children and who has no previous conviction finds himself facing a sentence of imprisonment which carries with it the stigma which will be attached from a SOPO, and being on the sex offender’s register.

“All this stems from you allowing yourself to be tempted to enter into a chat room and start having internet chat with someone who, as far as you were aware, was a child.”