Preston bartender sent lewd pictures and videos online believing child was 13

A prizewinning bar worker has been ordered to sign the Sex Offender's Register for five years after admitting attempting to engage in sexual communication with a 13-year-old girl.

Christopher Zahra, 34 or Greenside, Cottam, Preston, was arrested at his workplace at the Forum in Preston, after his distinctive skull and crossbone tattoo was spotted in one of the pictures he sent to 'Sophie' - who was actually an undercover police officer.

Preston's Sessions House Court heard he had used two aliases on the notorious Kik Messenger site and had triggered suspicion he was showing a sexual interest in children.

When he was told the alleged age of the child he remarked it "could be dangerous".

Sessions House

He rapidly sexualised the chat and sent a lewd image before apologising and saying it was "meant for someone else."

During their communications Zahra remarked to the child he was "drunk and horny" and wished to share videos and pictures but that she was too young.

However, he went on to send an incriminating video of himself performing a sexual act, in which a distinctive skull and crossbones tattoo could be seen.

He apologised again, but a few days later sent other pictures of himself, including himself naked on a bed, and asked her for a picture.

Zahra was arrested at 12.26pm pn May 10, 2019 at his workplace.

In an interview he said he had split up with his wife, and was drinking and occasionally taking drugs which had affected his judgement.

The court also heard he had been communicating around the same time with an adult of the same name.

He admits a charge of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child between February 23 and March 7, 2019.

Wayne Jackson, defending, said he was a family man with no previous convictions, whose life had collapsed after his split with his wife.

He added: " He is deeply ashamed of his behaviour."

Judge Philip Parry sentenced Zahra to a two year community order with a requirement to attend the Horizon sex offender's programme.

Imposing a five year sexual harm prevention order he added: " This wasn't a one off communication, this was persistent, prolonged and involved the sending of still and moving images.

"It's very difficult to predict how far this communication would have gone. It is an attempt because the person was not a child, but the courts' experience of offending of this kind is they often do lead to further serious sexual offending involving children.

"Very often people appear where you are now stood having genuinely communicated with children, and the harm caused in that situation is heightened.

"You say you were introduced to this social media by a friend, but just a moment's research into what this type of social media is often used for would have alerted you to this and I suspect you knew that."

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