September 2019

Churchgoer travelled from Bristol to McDonalds Exeter to meet boy for sex

An apparently respectable churchgoer was exposed as an internet predator who groomed boys for sex when he was trapped by an police undercover operation.

James Staynings spent two weeks exchanging sexual messages with what he thought was a 14-year-old boy called Joshua before he travelled from his home in Bristol to meet the child in Exeter.

He planned to go back to the boy’s home and take a shower with him but he was met by police and arrested as he waited at the McDonalds in Marsh Barton.

One of his last messages to Josh was a failed attempt to make sure he was not falling into a police trap. He wrote:”I don’t want to be arrested for being a paedo.”

Police found sexual conversations with three other boys aged 13 to 16 on his phone along with pictures of their genitals which some had sent to him. He also sent naked pictures to some of the internet contacts.

Staynings is a stalwart of a church in Bristol and the female pastor accompanied him to court and supported him from the public gallery.

He was happily married with two adult children before being arrested but was thrown out by his wife and has moved back with his 84-year-old mother.

Staynings, aged 64, of Ambleside Drive, Bristol, admitted attempting to arrange a child sex offence and asked for six cases of possession of indecent images or sexual communication with a child to be considered.

He was jailed for six months, suspended for two years, and ordered to attend a sex offenders’ treatment programme by Judge Peter Johnson at Exeter Crown Court.

He was also ordered to pay £350 costs, put on the sex offenders register and made subject to a sexual harm prevention order which restricts his contact with children and allows police to monitor his internet activity for seven years.

The judge told him:”You are 64 and this is your first brush with the criminal law, and it is a fairly heavy one. A community option with a treatment programme is a realistic alternative to an immediate sentence.”

Mr Brian Fitzherbert, prosecuting, said Staynings made contact with Joshua on the internet site Chat Avenue in April without realising it was a decoy profile set up by police child protection officers.

He spent two weeks exchanging messages in which he discussed digital penetration, oral sex, kissing, and touching the boy in a shower.

He asked Joshua to send him pictures of himself in his bedroom and suggested going to Exeter to meet him when he was at home on his own.

He described the bedroom as ‘where the action would take place’ and sent a naked picture of himself. Two days before the planned meeting, he said he needed to be 100 per cent sure that Joshua was real.

An officer posing as the boy rang him and held a six minute conversation. He said ‘so I’m your little secret, that’s good because I know what is going to happen if things go wrong. I don’t want to be arrested for being a paedo’.

He was arrested at McDonalds and admitted contacting other boys, some or all of whom may be real rather than decoys. There were images of boys aged 13 to 16 on his phone, including one of a boy masturbating in front of a mirror.