December 2019

Paedophile caught by an undercover operative

A paedophile caught by an undercover operative posing as a young girl online has avoided jail after admitting that he was trying to groom her for sex.

Robert Webber, 59, of Pagets Road, Bishop’s Cleeve, was convicted at Cheltenham Magistrates court last month of communicating with the ‘girl’ and was sent to Gloucester Crown Court for sentencing yesterday.

Prosecutor Jack Duffy told the court Webber began ‘chatting up’ an undercover operative who told him she was aged 14 and added: “Webber said that he was 22, when in fact he was 57 at the time, on January 9, last year.

“Webber told the operative that she had made him sexually aroused.

“The police later executed a search warrant at his home address in July and found internet evidence of other sexual activity including searches for schoolgirl rape.

“He could not explain at interview why he had been in a teens chatroom.”

David Scutt, defending said: “It has been almost two years since the offence was committed. He was arrested in July 2018 and it’s been a long process ever since.

“Webber’s downward spiral began with the death of his wife in 2014. He became unemployed and lonely which led him seeking solace in the internet.

“His arrest was a big wake-up call and he would welcome a community-based sentence to help him address his issues and force him to confront his demons.”

Judge Michael Cullum said to Webber: “This offending occurred after the death of your wife. You initially flirted with an operative who was not a real child. You were clearly immersed into the pornography culture.

“However, I’ve considered all sentencing options and I believe there is a real possibility of rehabilitation.”