August 2019

Renowned Ripon music teacher caught by paedophile hunters 

A renowned cellist and music teacher has been found guilty of online sexual activity with a 12-year-old ‘girl’ after being caught by paedophile hunters.

York Crown Court heard how David Wesling, 45, found the profile of an under-age girl on a website called ‘Chat Hour’ and started messaging her.

In fact, the ‘girl’ was a member of Keeping Kids Safe (KKS), an online group set up to root out online predators.

After messaging the ‘girl’ on ‘Chat Hour’, Wesling – a peripatetic and private music tutor from Ripon who has taught at several schools across the Harrogate district – contacted her on WhatsApp, the encrypted messenger service, sending requests for intimate photos and asking her if she wanted to see him naked, York Crown Court heard.

Wesling – a former cellist/chorister with Ripon Cathedral Choir – stripped off his clothes during video calls to the ‘girl’ and said he wanted to be her “slave”.

Prosecutor Paul Newcombe said that Wesling made repeated attempts to see a “full-body picture” of the girl throughout the chats.

A jury at the trial of the disgraced musician heard that the ‘girl’ was actually a grandmother from South Wales who pretended to be a child.

The “decoy”, a member of KKS’s Wales branch, told Wesling her camera had broken so she didn’t have to send him pictures, but repeatedly told him she was 12 years old, was off school due to sickness and was “with her nan”.

But this didn’t stop Wesling, a married father-of-two who exposed himself on the video calls and told the ‘girl’ not to tell anyone.

Members of the English branch of the group received a tip-off from the decoy in Wales about “a male deemed to be a threat to children” and confronted Wesling at his home.

They contacted police and presented them with chat-log evidence.

Wesling pleaded his innocence, claiming he was merely carrying out “classic role-play” and “fantasy”, insisting he thought the person “at the other end” was 18 or over because that was the age she gave on her profile.

But evidence provided by the “paedophile hunters” included a profile picture of a real 12-year-old girl, which the decoy had used on the chat site.

Wesling was arrested and ultimately charged with three counts of attempting to incite a child under 13 years of age to watch a sexual act, one count of attempting to communicate with a child and one count of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity.

The offences occurred between January 10 and February 4 this year.

He denied all accusations, insisting he believed the fictitious ‘girl’ to be an adult acting out an older man “fantasy” and that, for him, it was a “form of escapism”.

Mr Newcombe said Wesling asked the girl about her school uniform and the length of her skirt, which the music teacher claimed was “normal” role play with what he thought was a consenting adult.

Wesling said he had viewed pornography online “a long time ago” but claimed he had no sexual interest in children.

But Mr Newcombe said there was evidence that Wesling had been on several websites in 2014 looking for “pre-teen” material.

Wesling told police he was a “well-known teacher and a law-abiding citizen”. But the prosecution said Wesling’s past Internet use betrayed an interest in “under-age females”.

Wesling is said to have told the ‘girl’ “If we do play, you can’t say anything. I don’t want you to get into trouble or me. Don’t tell anyone about me.”

When the ‘girl’ asked “is it because I’m 12?,” Wesling replied “yes.” He asked the ‘girl’ to delete their chats but claimed this was all part of the role play.

Judge Sean Morris adjourned sentence to September 6 and released Wesling on bail until that date.