NORTH Yorkshire police say they have given a Scarborough man a suspended sentence after they managed to catch him by posing as a 13-year-old girl to which the man sent sexual pictures.

John Gilbert, aged 53, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, at York Magistrates’ Court last Friday when he pleaded guilty on September 17.

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Gilbert was charged with three offences such as an adult attempting to meet a girl under 16 following grooming, an attempt to engage in sexual communications with a child, and attempting to cause a child aged 13 to 15 to watch or look at an image of sexual activity.

Police say the offences were committed between September 2 and September 14 2021, while Gilbert was engaged in online chats with a person who he believed to be a 13-year-old girl.

During the conversation, Gilbert sent sexual images, engaged in sexualised chat and made arrangements to meet the girl.

However, Gilbert did not realise that he was communicating with the police throughout this time.

According to police, an operation was carried out on September 16 to arrest him and a search warrant was executed at this home address.

Gilbert’s smart phone was examined by the Digital Forensic Unit and they were able to recover key evidence that proved he had been involved in the online child sexual abuse activity using a variety of dating and messaging applications.

Police Constable Francesca Diffey, of the Online Abuse and Exploitation Team, based in Scarborough, and who led the investigation, said: “It is clear from the investigation that Gilbert has an active sexual interest in children and that he presents a very real danger to society.

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“Through the work of the police, we were able to intervene before he preyed on young victims.

“We have also ensured that Gilbert has been made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and he is on the Sex Offenders’ Register.

“This means he will be closely managed by strict public protection measures.”


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