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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have an police investigation going on with accusations of

Customer Question

I have an police investigation going on with accusations of meeting with a 13 years old prior to online grooming. I like to discuss the evidences in place and understand the consequences.
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Law
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

May we have as much background detail as possible please and what it is that you want to know about this?

When we have that, I can then submit a Premium Service proposal to speak on the telephone.

Thank you.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
I am, 32 years old man, currently under investigation by Plumstead Police regarding to Online Grooming for 13 years old boy child (decoy). This is summary of what has happened:On 18+ app (Grindr); I have approached to a profile, at the begin profile owner said I am 13, I have carried outconversation and after certain point I have some pictures of my face and private parts. I have asked him to send as well which he didn't. After some discussions, exchanged telephone numbers to communicate on WhatsApp for more reliable communication. Sometime later, I have blocked this profile on Grindr as it was not answering any questions properly also had a feeling that it was a fake profile. Some minutes later after block, this person approached to me from WhatsApp saying why I have deleted him. I explained that I don't think you are real person and it's a fake profile. Asked him few questions to prove that it's a real. On WhatsApp I have not opened any discussions regarding to sex or any abusing words. As I was so curious who is this (I knew that it was not 13 years old boy), but I wondered if it was someone I know or someone kidding with me. After every 10-12 line chat, I was asking questions to prove that it is a fake profile, and each time I was satisfied that it was fake profile.Few days later, he messaged me and asked what I am doing over weekend? Told him nothing on Saturday but Sunday I have a birthday party to attend. I have asked him what he is doing over weekend. Then I have suggested to go to Cinema at Greenwich. I was still sure it's a fake profile and wondering who it was. I have get on the way to go Cinema, but when I have reached to car park, I have changed my mind; and started to give excuses of there is traffic and I won't make it, and he should go into the movie and start to watch. Just before I will move on go back to home; 6 man turned up, opened my car door, took the car key and verbally accused me that I am there to meet with 13 years old boy, and video all these while waiting the police.I have been interviewed with police and answered all their questions openly. Only thing I said, I don't recall the profile said to me it was 13 years old at the beginning and I was remembering him mentioning this later in the conversation. They took my phone, ipad and laptops. There are not any other communication with anyone below 16. Not any child pornography or similar.No previous convictions. My question is; what is likely to happen? Can I get away with caution? If not, what will be the sentence if I accept or not accept? Can you enlighten me on these please and provide some advice.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

The offence is section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Meeting a child following sexual grooming.

The person however must be under 16 years of age.

You don’t have to meet, you only have to travel with the intention of meeting or not even travel, but just arrange to meet.

At this stage in time, you haven’t committed an offence if the decoy was a police officer posing as a child.

What the police are doing are using these decoys to trap people and then carrying out the investigations of those people. It works on the basis that people committing this kind of offence will rarely do it on only one occasion.

Provided this is the only incident, and the police will investigate your computer and mobile phone in depth, then you escape prosecution as no-one under 16 is involved.

If convicted, it carries a maximum imprisonment term of 10 years.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Please rate the service positive. It doesn’t cost you anything but helps me greatly.

We can still exchange emails. Best wishes. FES.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Decoy was not a police officer, it was a group of people who were pretending like a child.
I did not went there to meet with 13 years old child, as I was mentioned in number of times in messages that I don't think that you are 13 and having a fake account.
Yes, I do not have any other chats with anyone under 16. No any child pornography, or any other illegal stuff related to child.Can I be convicted with above arguments?
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
What I meant. In text messages; I have mentioned to him: "I don't believe you are real, and I don't think you are 13, you have a fake account". Explained to police that it was curiosity who it was; someone I know or someone kidding with me. Intention was not to meet with year 13.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

Under the legislation, the person has to be under 16.

It is not sufficient for someone to be pretending to be under 16 and for you to have met them or arrange to have met them if they are only pretending.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Do you mind to see the page 65 here? Is this the one you are referring here?
https://consult.justice.gov.uk/sentencing-council/victim-is-a-child/supporting_documents/sexual%20offences_Offences%20where%20the%20victim%20is%20child.pdfBut following article at CPS site explains opposite to what you are saying:
http://www.cps.gov.uk/thames_chiltern/cps_thames_and_chiltern_news/man_jailed_for_grooming___luton/I am a bit confused. Can you explain?
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

I can’t comment on individual cases around the country, only the statutory provision and in your case, there is no victim.

In my opinion, he would be able to appeal this on the grounds of entrapment

Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

I have asked a colleague to have a look at this for you. It will give you a second opinion.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 months ago.

I have been asked to look at this.

So, in short, the person was or was not under 16?

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Hi, it was group of people (all age over 18); who were pretending, he was 13 years old. So none of them were under 16. They call themselves paedophile hunters.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 months ago.

Yes.

But this person did tell you he was under 13?

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
He said he was 13.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 months ago.

Ok.

Are you asking if you have a defence?

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
also I like to know; what will be likely result?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 months ago.

Sorry if I am missing the point but what is your defence?

Are you trying to argue that you didn't know they were under 16?

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
When I went to meet with the person, I know it was not a real profile and the person was not 13 years old. At the beginning, I did not know it was fake, but later in the stage I knew. So intention was not to go and meet with 13 years old, it was curiosity to find out who it is; and if he is someone knows me, or someone else.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 months ago.

Well, you can defend on that basis. Ultimately they have to prove that you knew or believed the person to be under 13. However, I have to give you full and frank information.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 months ago.

If you were told that the person was 13 then th chances the jury would accept you believed them to be over 16 are quite low.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 months ago.

I suppose the advantage of this situation is that you could have a trial without causing distress to a young witness. At least then it would not be aggravated by an unpleasant cross examination.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 months ago.

However, the chances of success are fairly low I'm afraid. Can I clarify anything for you? Jo

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
you believe, Police Investigation result will be CHARGED. What likely the result of plea guilty? Can you give some idea please?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 months ago.

Yes, it is inevitable in practice.

Are you asking about sentencing?

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 3 months ago.

Grooming does generally pass the custodial threshold.

You would probably escape in favour of a suspended sentence though largely because they can couple it with community officers addressing sex offending.

There might well be a SOPO and obviously the sex offenders register.

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