September 2019

Welsh paedophile took condoms and lubricant to meet ‘hot little schoolgirl’

Paedophile Mark Richards thought he was chatting to a 13-year-old girl he wanted to have sex with – but it was an undercover cop, a court heard.

He even took lubrication jelly and condoms to meet the fictional youngster, but was busted by the police officer working as part of Operation Harrier, to snare perverts preying on children

Swansea Crown Court heard Richards, 45, had arranged to meet her at a train station and even arrived there with his own daughter before being arrested

Undercover officers would pretend to be children and chat to suspects online as part of the operation Carina Hughes, acting for the prosecution said.

Then during July this year Richards started chatting with a girl on the chatroom Chatiw.

The barrister said the conversation soon turned sexual in nature with Richards calling the girl a “naughty little b****” and a “hot little schoolgirl”.

The court heard the pair continued to chat on the messaging platforms WhatsApp and Kik, with the conversation becoming increasingly explicit despite the “girl” repeatedly telling the defendant how old she was.

Richards then gave the decoy his daughter’s phone number and the pair arranged to meet the following day at Carmarthen train station.

When Richards got off the train at just after 10am on July 10 he was arrested by waiting police. He was accompanied on the trip by his adult daughter.

The court heard that in his subsequent interview Richards answered no comment to all questions but his 20-year-old daughter told police she was aware of her father’s “abnormal sexual behaviour”.

Richards, of Stafford Street,Llanelli, admitted attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and attempting to meet a girl under 16 following grooming.

The court heard has 11 previous convictions for 53 offences but none for sexual matters.

Judge Huw Rees told Richards he had intended to “lure” his victim to a meeting with the intention of having sex with her and had taken condoms and lubrication jelly with him to that end.

He said it was clear that the defendant had not been deterred when the “girl” made it clear she was just 13 and in fact her age had only “encouraged” him.

The judge said a probation report into Richards had concluded he posed a high risk of serious harm to children aged between 12 and 16

Giving the defendant a 25% discount for his guilty pleas the judge sentenced him to 18 months in prison. Richards will serve half that period in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.

He was also made the subject of a 10-year sexual harm prevention order to limit his access to the internet and to children and will be a registered sex offender for the same period.