Company boss bought Domino’s pizza and Pandora earrings for under-age girls
A company boss showered young girls with gifts and and engaged in social media sex chats with them.
Austin Kitchen, managing director of Bolton-based family firm Velden Engineering, groomed 14 and 15-year-old girls, sending them presents, telling them he wanted to sleep with them and showing photographs of his Tesla car and a BMW he was driving.
At Bolton Crown Court 36-year-old Kitchen was told he had narrowly avoided being sent to jail immediately after he pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual communication with a child, two counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and making an indecent image of a child.
Joe Boyd, prosecuting, told the court how police were contacted by a 15-year-old girl’s father after the shocked parent saw messages between his daughter and Kitchen on the social media site Snapchat.
Mr Boyd told how, in April 2017, Kitchen, who was calling himself Austin Deluson and claiming to be aged 25 on the site, began contacting the girl on a daily basis, paying her compliments and asking her to send him a photograph of herself in her school uniform, telling her “you look really hot”
“The girl confided that she was 15 but that did not deter him,” said Mr Boyd.
“The conversation soon became sexual as he told her he wanted to sleep with her and ‘throw her on the bed’.
Kitchen promised to buy the girl lots of presents, purchasing an E-cigarette, a North Face coat and leggings for her.
“When the girl asked what he wanted in return, he said that he wanted to sleep with her,” said Mr Boyd. The pair met on two occasions but the girl was with a friend and they were never alone.
After several weeks the girl’s father checked her Snapchat account and was alarmed to see the messages, including one from Kitchen stating, “I’ve spent over £200 on you so far so you can’t say I’ve not been generous…. You will get everything you want you just need to be patient and wait til we do more”. And in another message he told her, “Show me your worth spoiling”.
Police traced Kitchen through the telephone number he used to communicate with the girl and they were then contacted by colleagues in Hampshire as he had been messaging another girl, this time a 14-year-old, sending her Domino’s pizza and asking for cheeky pictures in return for a jumper she wanted.
Officers also found he was in contact with another 14-year-old, sending her a pair of Pandora earrings and engaging in sexual chat.
The court heard that the girls had suffered psychological problems as a result of Kitchen’s offending, with one girl turning to self harm.
When dad-of-two Kitchen’s iPhone was examined police also found a one and a quarter hour pornographic video of a girl aged between 15 and 17, which he had downloaded.
Steven Swift, defending, stressed that Kitchen, of Toxhead Close, Horwich has no previous convictions and has not committed any more crimes in the last two and half years.
But the court was told that, in a pre-sentence report, Kitchen still does not accept his behaviour was sexual and that he knew from the start that he was communicating with young girls.
“He still has still got a long way to go to admit the truth,” commented Judge Richard Gioserano.
The judge sentenced Kitchen to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years, ordered that he undertake 200 hours of unpaid work and a sex offender treatment programme as well as participating in 30 days of rehabilitation activities.
He was also placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years, made subject to a sexual harm prevention order, restricting his access to the internet and children, for five years and must pay £1,800 towards prosecution costs.
He told Kitchen: “You did, in my judgement, engage in what can properly be called grooming behaviour, in particular the use and promise of gifts to encourage these girls to interact with you. There was significant disparity in age here and, what is more, you lied about your true age.”
He added: “Although this is inciting something less than actual physical sexual activity, the incitement here not only risked harm but has caused caused harm. Two girls at least have been left dealing with psychological and emotional harm caused by you.”
The judge was told that Kitchen has been with his partner for nearly 20 years and was described as a hard-working family man.
Judge Gioserano said: “Neither friends nor family would have suspected you of being capable of anything such as this. You have lost your previous positive good character and the high regard in which you were held by many. You must now live with that.” The judge added that the public will be better protected from Kitchen by rehabilitation in the community rather than immediate prison.
“On balance, given the prospect of rehabilitation for the protection of the public in the future, given your strong personal mitigation and particularly your previous positive good character with no history of anything like this, I have come to the conclusion that these sentences can, just, be suspended,” he said.