A respected academic has been jailed for arranging to meet what he believed to be a 14-year-old boy for a sexual encounter weeks after taking up a post at Durham University.

Dushmanta Kara, who left behind a wife and child when he came to the UK to take up the position in Durham, made contact with a profile ‘TwinkFreeNow’ on the online gay dating site Grindr, on April 25, the day it was posted.

Durham Crown Court heard the profile, with a picture of a boy with short dark hair, was, in reality, a decoy generated by an undercover police officer.

The court was told that although purporting to be aged 18, the minimum age for Grindr users, the decoy soon revealed to Kara that he was 14, as there is no age verification required to use the site.

Read more: Ageing County Durham sex offender appears to have no sexual boundaries

Paul Newcombe, prosecuting, told the court the defendant’s profile indicated he was just four kilometres away from the location of the police operative posing as the boy.

Kara sent a picture to the decoy of his naked upper body and they discussed sexual activity they would like to perform on each other.

The ‘boy’ told Kara that he was “new to it” but told him he was free that night and alone at home, so they arranged to meet.

Mr Newcombe said they exchanged photographs of each other and they were able to track each other's locations as they made their way to the rendezvous site, in Gilesgate, Durham.

But on arrival at the meeting point, Kara was arrested.

He told police he had been using Grindr since his arrival in the UK in February and accepted being involved in the exchange of messages in which he said they had discussed, “kissing, cuddling and oral sex”.

But Kara claimed he believed the boy to be aged 18, although he accepted the profile picture posted by the decoy looked younger than that.

By the time of his first crown court appearance, on May 26, however, the 31-year-old defendant, of Steavenson Street, Bowburn, admitted charges of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence and attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.

Read more: Durham pervert thought he was meeting girl, 15, for sex

He appeared at court for sentencing today (Thursday, July 13) assisted by a Hindi interpreter.

Mark Styles, in mitigation, told the court that having spoken to the defendant about his situation: “The reality is this has had the most enormous impact on him.”

Referring to character references presented to the court by fellow academics, Mr Styles said: “He’s clearly highly thought of by his peers.

“He has a dependent wife and young child and the impact on them is profound.

“He has lost his good name and lost his post at Durham University, having been dismissed in early June, which has left him on limited resources.

“He was very isolated, lonely and vulnerable in the UK, having arrived in February, knowing no one.

“He was naïve in the extreme to get involved in this criminal offending.

“The possibility of a 14-year-old with a household available for sexual activity seems barely credible, but he was drawn in by the decoy.

“He’s anxious to return to his home country and to start afresh.

“He’s been in regular contact with his wife.”

Judge James Adkin told the defendant that when told the ‘boy’ was 14, “that didn’t seem to be a problem" to him.

“Penetrative sex was contemplated by you when you arranged to meet the police decoy in Gilesgate, where you were arrested.”

Referring to the latest sentencing guidelines for the offences admitted by Kara, with a starting point of five years and a range from four to ten years, Judge Adkin said: “There has been a hardening of attitudes to this sort of offending.”

But he said there should only be a small deduction for the fact the boy did not actually exist, in circumstances such as this case.

He said mitigating features were the defendant’s previous good character, his prompt admissions at crown court and the respect he has in the academic community.

Read next:

Offender hoped to meet 'boy' aged 12 for sex

Man, 20, jailed over sexual meeting with girl in County Durham

Man planned to meet ‘boy’, 14, for sex

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Imposing a prison sentence of 30 months (two-and-a-half years), the judge said it would have been 40 months but for his guilty pleas.

He told Kara: “You will serve 15 months of the sentence before being deported.”

The judge also made Kara subject to a 15-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order and indefinite registration as a sex offender.