WHEN paedophiles are brought to court for sentencing, a lot of the time it is because they have been caught by paedophile hunting groups.
These groups often run decoy accounts in an attempt to lure perverts from the woodwork and hand them over to the authorities.
However, sometimes undercover police officers also operate decoy social media profiles in attempt to prevent real children being harmed.
Here are four defendants from Berkshire and beyond who were caught by discreet cops.
A court has heard how the wife of a man who was caught sending sexual messages to two 13-year-old girls is now in charge of the password to their family laptop.
Philip Horsburgh, of Kenton Road, Wokingham, was spared jail despite also sending a picture of his penis to the girls.
The 72-year-old made online contact with the underage girls — who were not real and whose personas were created by undercover police officers — in the summer of 2019.
He was made aware of the girls’ ages but continued to message them and told one of them to touch herself sexually, a court heard.
Horsburgh also sent a picture of himself touching himself to one of the girls.
However, the Wokingham man did not attempt to meet the girls and the contact ceased.
His defence counsel Mr Walker said that since the incidents, his wife has changed the password on their family laptop and he is only allowed to use it under her supervision.
The court heard how Horsburgh has been taking part in rehabilitative courses since the summer 2019 incidents.
His barrister said: “He wants to show everyone else he will not behave like this again.”
Sentencing, Her Honour Judge Real said: “This was a massive shock to your family but they have put in place measures so you do not go down this route again.”
With this in mind, Judge Real handed Horsburgh a 20-month prison sentence suspended for two years.
The 72-year-old will also have to take part in 40 rehabilitation activity requirement days and will be on the sex offenders register for ten years.
He was sentenced at Reading Crown Court on Monday, October 25 for two counts of attempting to incite a girl aged 13-15 in sexual activity, attempting to engage in sexual activity in the presence of a child, and two counts of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.
A man who travelled to Reading with the intention of raping two children has been thrown behind bars for eight years.
Shahmaan Ahmed, of Roman Road, London, believed the children to be three and eight-years-old when he travelled from the capital in August 2020 and even bought sweets for the youngsters.
The children were not real, but Ahmed was arrested after he had arranged the sickening crimes by officers from Thames Valley’s Paedophile Online Investigation Team.
He was sentenced to eight years in jail after being found guilty of child sex offences by a jury back in February.
REVEALED: How police caught Shahmaan Ahmed
DC Nick Hook, from TVP’s paedophile investigation team, said: “Ahmed was armed with excuses when he was arrested and throughout his trial.
“However, the evidence was overwhelming and the jury saw through his feeble attempts to convince them he was in fact a ‘good guy’ trying to expose others involved in the sexual abuse of children.
“Ahmed’s intensions were clear, he went to Reading that day in the belief that he was going to abuse children.
“A particularly distressing part of this case is that he brought sweets with him as gifts for the children he believed he was there to abuse, the youngest being just three years old.
“It is important to acknowledge that these children were not real and on this occasion Ahmed was not posing a danger to any children when he travelled to Reading.”
Ahmed was sentenced at Reading Crown Court on Wednesday, June 16, 2021.
A school caretaker said he should be hung after he admitted to arranging sexual acts with a child.
David Wolfe, of Elm Drive, Winkfield, was locked up after also admitting to sending a picture of his genitalia to a 13-year-old girl.
The 63-year-old was arrested after he tried to meet up with the child – who was really an undercover police officer – having brought condoms with him to a park in Windsor in the summer of 2020.
“He comes before the court as a broken man. He says he has destroyed everything”, defence barrister Mark Kinsey told Reading Crown Court.
“He was living a fantasy world online and he said the best thing that happened was the police coming and taking away his devices.
“In his view, he should be hung. He says he is disgusted with himself and he is extremely ashamed of what happened.
“This is a man who got caught up in some form of escapism and whose inquisitive mode took hold.”
Wolfe, who worked as a handyman and a caretaker for Forest Bridge School in Maidenhead, arranged to meet the girl for sex after telling her he was 53 on a fake profile online.
The girl — who was really an undercover police officer — and Wolfe moved the conversation to WhatsApp where he sent her sexualised messages and asked her for intimate images.
They arranged to meet at a park in Windsor when officers ambushed Wolfe. They discovered he had brought condoms with him to the meeting.
Upon seizing his phone, 37 indecent images (ranging from the most severe images to less severe images) were discovered, alongside 50 images of extreme porn involving a horse.
Other sexualised conversations with young children were also found on Wolfe’s phone, Reading Crown Court heard.
Wolfe was handed a 44-month prison sentence, of which he will serve half in jail before being eligible for release.
The 63-year-old did not react as he learned of his fate at Reading Crown Court on Tuesday, June 28.
‘To think that someone could have done this to my young daughter is terrifying.’
Those were the words of a convicted paedophile who was jailed for trying to meet up with two teenage girls.
Ian De Melvin appeared before a judge in June 2022 after he was caught arranging to meet up with the girls who were in fact undercover police.
Prosecuting, Jonathan Sank, said: “These two offences that the defendant stands to be sentenced for took place in October 2020 and June 2021. The first offence relates to who the defendant believed to be a 13-year-old girl and the second to be for a 14-year-old girl.
Sentencing in Reading Crown Court, Judge Kirsty Real said: “You were contemplating penetrative sexual activity with a 13-year-old, and you got cold feet on both occasions. The offences are so serious only immediate custody is appropriate.”
De Melvin was sentenced to a combined total of six months’ imprisonment. He will have to serve half of this sentence before he is eligible for parole. He was also made subject to a seven-year-long sexual harm prevention order.
The 52-year-old appeared at Reading Crown Court on Tuesday, June 28.