November 2018

Former Bury Grammar School teacher groomed ’14-year-old boy’ for sex online – it was actually a cop

A former Bury Grammar School teacher told a ’14-year-old boy’ – who was actually an uncover police officer – he was ‘okay with his age’ and ‘just liked chatting to nice, teen lads’.

Peter Skinner, who retired last year, groomed ‘Dylan’ after striking up a conversation in an online chatoom.

Over the course of four days, he exchanged increasingly explicit messages with the officer who was posing as the boy.

When ‘Dylan’ made clear he was only 14, Skinner said that he was ‘okay with his age’ because he ‘just liked chatting to nice, teen lads’, prosecutor Justin Hayhoe told Minshull Street Crown Court.

But Skinner, who taught design and technology at Bury Grammar for decades, then directed ‘Dylan’ to move the conversation into a private chatroom which encrypted messages.

He eventually arranged to meet the ‘boy’ in north Wales, where he promised to shower him with gifts and perform a sex act

Police then raided Skinner’s house in Greenmount, Bury, last October, where they found 26 indecent images of children on his laptop.

There was also evidence he had used specialist software to ‘forensically clean’ his electronic equipment, the court heard.

Skinner was charged with eight offences. He pleaded guilty to five of them, including inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

The three remaining charges will be allowed to lie on file.

Judge Bernadette Baxter spared Skinner from jail and handed him a two-year suspended sentence.

He must also remain on the Sex Offenders Register and be subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for ten years.

Mr Hayhoe told the court how Skinner had lied about his age, claiming to be 59-years-old and that ‘it would be easier’ if ‘Dylan’ had been over 16.

When discussing the possibility of meeting in Llandudno, Skinner said he would ‘treat ‘Dylan’ with respect and not do anything he didn’t want to do’.

Skinner said he wanted to be ‘friends for ages rather than meet once for sex’, the court heard.

He went on to boast of having four cars, including a Jaguar, and that he could take ‘Dylan’ for a ride in a supercar.

The court heard it was Skinner who turned the conversation towards sex and that he sent ‘Dylan’ an explicit image of an underage girl.

During the exchange of messages that followed, many of the details heard in court were too vile to be repeated by the Manchester Evening News.

Asking the judge to show leniency, Mr Buckle conceded: “It was poisonous material, there’s no doubt about it.

“But there is nothing exceptional about these offences.

“However there is something exceptional about this defendant.

“He is somebody who for forty years has been a pillar of the community.

“Indeed, the Bursar at Bury Grammar School said he had left a legacy at the school.”

Mr Buckle told how Skinner had helped design and build the Modern Foreign Languages building, and that when there was a shortfall of cash, he had donated £20,000 of his own money for it to be completed.

“A reputation he built up over four decades, he destroyed in about four days of chat with ‘Dylan’,” said Mr Buckle.

Skinner showed no reaction as he was told he would not be jailed.