November 2018

Serial sex offender befriended parents in carers’ charity and offered to take kids swimming

A serial sex offender is behind bars again after he befriended parents in a carers’ charity and offered to take children swimming.

Declan Stirling, 22, still believes a six-year-old girl “consented” to him sexually assaulting her years ago.

Molesting the girl earned him a two-year sentence in a young offenders’ institution in 2016.

Within months he was out flouting a 10-year sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) designed to protect children from him.

Stirling, of Tankerville Street, Hartlepool, has now admitted five charges of breaching the SHPO and one of failing to comply with sex offender notification requirements.

Previous convictions include sexually assaulting a young boy when Stirling was 14 in 2010, sexual activity in the presence of a child in 2013, and the two sexual assaults on the six to seven-year-old girl in 2016.

He set up a Facebook account under the false name Dwayne Johnson and used his phone to contact a vulnerable underage girl.

This was “pretty innocuous”, said prosecutor Paul Reid, and Stirling never arranged to meet her.

But a fellow bail hostel resident has been accused of sexual offences against her and is still to stand trial, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Stirling was recalled to prison to serve out the rest of his 2016 sentence – but carried on offending after his July 2017 release.

Now with three Facebook accounts, he registered with a carers’ charity which helps look after adults and children.

He said he was joining as he was caring for his boyfriend, but did not reveal his convictions.

Through the charity he went to a party where he spent “a considerable amount of time” with some children, taking one teenage girl away with him “uneventfully”, in July this year.

Stirling went on to offer child-minding help to one of the dads, who felt “pressurised” and grew fed up of Stirling’s attention towards his family.

The last straw came when Straw offered to take his children swimming, and he severed contact.

His suspicions proved well-founded as one of the charity’s carers was told Stirling was a paedophile who had been to prison for sexual offences.

When confronted, Stirling said he was on the sex offenders’ register for “sexting” with a teenager.

Judge Stephen Ashurst told Stirling: “I say at once that I have some concerns about your sexual history and the risk that you present to children in future.

“You have a worrying history with sexual offending in relation to children.

“Your offending in the past has been against boys and girls.”

He did not doubt Stirling’s legitimate reason for joining the carers’ organisation, but said Stirling deliberately kept his criminal history secret.

He said a pre-sentence report did nothing to allay his concerns as Stirling still disputed his 2016 conviction, claiming the girl consented.

The judge said Stirling had not “come to terms with the issue of informed consent” and did not have fixed boundaries of acceptable behaviour.

He ruled Stirling still posed a risk with his persistent defiance to court orders.

Stirling was jailed for 20 months and his SHPO made indefinite.