Hardwicke man asked underage girl for a sex chat during police attack
Yesterday a jury took just 36 minutes to find a 55-year-old man from Hardwicke guilty of attempting to engage a 14-year-old girl in a sex conversation – which was really a secret police officer.
David Mason of Wynnstay Court Road, Hardwicke, Gloucestershire, told ‘Libby Bowen’ – the officer’s pseudonym – that he was happy and asked him to watch, then asked for pictures of the ‘girl’.
Mason and the officer exchanged emails, which the police used to find and arrest him at his home before seizing his computer equipment for analysis, as part of the undercover operation on December 21, 2017.
The jury heard that Mason had logged into a chat room called “Just Teens” but claimed he was only “role playing” with like-minded adults and hadn’t fired. no sexual gratification from the discussion.
Prosecutor Catherine Flint told the five-male and seven-female jury that Mason, using the name “Dave69”, had started messaging another chat room user “ChristmasGeordieLass14”, a pseudonym used by a policewoman. in civilian clothes posing as the 14-year-old girl.
The prosecutor said that Mason, using his real first name, Dave, began to conduct the conversation in a sexualized manner after connecting with “Libby”. He asked her her age, gender and location, and she told him she was from Newcastle and was 14.
After a while Mason described his state of excitement and said he was enjoying himself. He then asked if ‘Libby’ would like to watch.
Mason then asked the girl to send him pictures of her. They exchanged emails and it was through this channel of communication that Mason was later found and arrested at his home and his computer equipment was seized for analysis.
Mason stated in evidence before the jury: “I had suspicion that Libby was an adult. When I asked for her photo, I noticed that it had been tampered with. It confirmed to me that I was talking to an adult.
“I told him that I had grown up in Worcester and lived in Bristol or Gateshead and that I would be working on the Newcastle rail network at Christmas.
“I was not going to reveal my identity or where I live on the Internet.
“As far as I’m concerned, it was a role-playing game. I didn’t do it for sexual gratification, I did it for something to do because my life had gotten pretty boring.
“I have no sexual interest in underage girls. You will not find any indecent images of children on my computer.
Mason told the jury that he had used other discussion forums to role-play before turning to the “Just Teens” site.
Ms Flint pointed out to the jury that Mason was not playing a role – he was indeed playing himself, a middle aged 52-year-old man.
“There was no indication that ‘Libby’ was anything other than a 14-year-old,” she added.
“He treated her like a child throughout the conversation.”
After the jury returned their unanimous guilty verdict, recorder James Waddington QC said he was unable to convict Mason immediately as a number of reports had to be prepared before he could do so.
Mason was released on bail to return to court on Friday April 16 for sentencing.