May 2008

Man admits inciting child pornography over the internet

A WALLASEY man chatted up under-age girls via the internet and text messaging, a court has heard.

James Buntain’s wife told police after his behaviour came to light that his use of chat rooms was like “him having an affair.”

She gave him an ultimatum about his internet use and he assured her he would not talk to under 16-year-olds.

But Liverpool Crown Court heard that he had been communicating with a 15-year-old and thought he was also in touch with a 14-year-old.

Unknown to him, however, she was actually an under-cover police officer and his behaviour with the other girl came to light after her worried friend told their teacher.

Buntain, 45, began communicating with the under-cover officer, whom he believed was a 14-year-old schoolgirl called Katie, in February last year.

She was part of an operation by the Metropolitan Police investigating internet users targeting under-age girls and Buntain communicating with her via MSM messaging, said Charles Lander, prosecuting.

He claimed he was 36 and kept asking her to send “naughty” photos of herself, meaning nude, and offering to send her a train ticket to visit him. He also asked her sexually explicit questions and sent her text messages.

Police executed a search warrant at his then home, where he was living with his wife and children, in Wallasey and seized his mobile phone and computer.

It was found he had been in contact with a 15-year-old girl from Manchester and meanwhile police there had been alerted after her friend told their teacher.

In his messages to her he told her he was sexually aroused during their conversations and asked her to send “naughty” pictures of herself.

When interviewed by police, Buntain described his behaviour as “harmless fun”, but accepted he might have a problem. He said he had no intention of meeting the girls. When his computer was examined, an image of a girl aged about 15 was found.

Buntain, of Belle Vue Road, Wallasey, was placed under supervision for three years, disqualified for working with children for life, banned from using the internet for viewing pornography and ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for five years.

He pleaded guilty to making an indecent image, inciting child pornography and two offences of attempting to incite child pornography.

John Gibson, defending, said that Buntain, an electrician, who had no previous convictions, had “become increasingly isolated even within his own home because of his use of the computer.”

Mr Gibson added: “He became further isolated following the death of his father in December 2006 which co-incided with him being made redundant.”

Buntain was now working as a maintenance shift engineer and had had a reconciliation “of sorts” with his wife, but they were still not living together.

He had already been punished by spending the equivalent of a month in custody while on remand and spent three weeks in a bail hostel, said Mr Gibson.