November 2019

Fake fireman snared by ‘Geordie Catchers’ in lurid sexual chat with two bogus 13-year-old girls

A fake fireman caught by paedophile hunters as he sent lurid sexual messages to two phantom schoolgirls has avoided prison.

Online pervert Steven Drury, 42, thought he was talking to two underage girls.

In reality, they were two women who set up the voluntary group “Geordie Catchers” to identify internet child groomers.

He was only saved from jail by the fact that his twisted behaviour stayed “in the realms of fantasy”.

He started talking to the two fictitious girls via social media in July last year, using the name John and used a profile picture of a man half his age.

He went on to use his true name and reveal his true age, and when they told him they were 13, he said he did not care.

“It’s apparent that it quickly became sexual,” prosecutor Harry Hadfield told Teesside Crown Court on Monday.

Communicating with both bogus girls at the same time over a week, he asked them to meet him but no meeting ever took place.

He told one girl he was a fireman and he loved her, and told the other he wanted her to be his girlfriend.

He asked one: “Can we meet today? It’ll be our secret… I’ll find another girl if you don’t want to meet and let me be dirty with you.”

He sent them both explicit photos of male genitalia and asked for “dirty pics”. When reminded of one girl’s age, he said: “I know.”

He told other non-existent girl: “You are sexy. Can we flirt? I’m not bothered how old you are.”

He asked to meet her and stay at his place and said he wanted to have sex with her in graphic messages.

He also instructed her on how to search for porn and how to carry out a sexual act.

Arrested last November, Drury produced his knife “from the ceiling” after claiming it would be under his bed.

He confessed to his activity but denied arranging or going to a meeting.

Drury admitted two charges of attempted sexual communication with a child, one of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity and one of attempted grooming, offences which took place in Middlesbrough .

In a record of 28 offences including burglary, theft, battery and arson, they were his first sexual offences.

Judge Peter Armstrong told Drury: “The chat was of a sexual nature, or a quite appalling kind, and involved serious sexual offending, had it been real.

“Had you attended at a meeting intending to have sex with a 13-year-old, even if she didn’t really exist, you would have been going to prison straight away.

“There was no actual movement by you or travel by you to meet you with a 13-year-old.

“This remained in the realms of fantasy as far as you were concerned.

“It’s only that which makes it possible to avoid an immediate custodial sentence.

“The pre-sentence report indicates that you really need some assistance… with your distorted thinking.”

Drury, of St Martin’s Square, Scarborough, was given a one-year jail term suspended for two years with a sex offender treatment programme and 30 days’ rehabilitation activity.

He was given a sexual harm prevention order governing his contact and communication with children and his use of the internet, devices and images of children, and will be on the sex offenders’ register – both for 10 years.

He will be barred from working with children.