November 2019

St Ives paedophile snared by undercover cop posing as pre-teen girl

A paedophile has avoided jail after sending disgusting sex messages to a pre-teen girl who was actually an undercover police officer.

David Southby, 55, also arranged to meet the girl in a Travelodge.

Southby, of Parc-An-Creet, St Ives, appeared at Truro Crown Court on Thursday (November 21) for sentence having previously pleaded guilty to three charges.

Southby, who works in Camborne, admitted attempting to engage in sexual communications with a child under 13, attempting to cause or incite a girl under 13 in sexual activity, and intentionally arranging or facilitating a child sex offence.

Emily Cook, prosecuting, outlined the type of messages Southby sent to a person he thought was a pre-teen girl going by a name that Cornwall Live has been asked by the police not to publish.

In the messages Southby asked the girl for pictures of her in knickers and underwear, “sexy pics” and pictures of the girl with her legs spread.

He sent her a video of himself masturbating and instructed her how to masturbate and asked her to touch herself.

Southby said he wanted to meet the girl and that he would like to “give her oral” when they did.

He arranged to meet her at Saltash Travelodge, instructing her to tell the hotel that she was his daughter as it would “look funny”.

After arranging the first meeting and leaving his home Southby got cold feet, texting the girl to say the weather was too bad.

A second meeting was arranged but Southby was arrested on September 24 before it could take place.

Ms Cook said there was “a significant degree of planning and grooming” in Southby’s offence, which took place between July and September this year.

In police interview Southby read a prepared statement before offering no comment. He accepted that there was contact but denied knowing the girl was under 16 and said he didn’t intend to meet her.

Sentencing Southby to a two-year community order, Judge Robert Linford said: “All your offences involved attempts to communicate with and meet somebody you believed to be under the age of 16.

“You sent extremely explicit texts and photos and sought to obtain them in response. This was extremely serious offending.

“But the straight fact is these are attempts because the person at the other end of line was a police officer seeking to expose people with desires such as yours.

“Had this been, in fact, a child of an age this police officer was pretending to be, there is no doubt you would have faced an extremely long prison sentence. Do you understand?

“The sentence would have been five years or longer. Because these are offences of attempt I will go along with the suggestions of the pre-sentence report.”

As well as a two-year community order Southby was made the subject of a ten-year sexual harm prevention order and must sign the sex offenders’ register for five years and attend 31 sessions of a sex offender programme.

Judge Linford added: “If you do not cooperate, as night follows day, you will return to court and immediately go to prison.

“This is the one and only opportunity you will get.”