A man has been jailed for online child sexual offences.
Michael Richards, 34 , of Enfield was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment at Wood Green Crown Court on Monday, 20 July.
He pleaded guilty to the following offences on Tuesday, 2 June at the same court:
– Sexual communication with a child.
– Cause a child aged 13 to 15 to watch/look at an image of sexual activity.
– Facilitate the commission of a child sex offence.
Richards has been issued with an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) restricting his contact with any females under 16 and he will be subject to the Sex Offender Registration for life.
The court heard how detectives from the Met’s Central Specialist Crime were contacted on Monday, 4 May by an online child abuse activist group informing them of a case of suspected online grooming by Richards, who was using the pseudonym Jason Langham. In December 2019 he had initiated contact with what he believed to be a 14-year-old girl, it was in fact an adult decoy.
The communication quickly became sexual and despite being told several times his contact was just 14, he sent a number of graphic messages, shared explicit videos and encouraged the child to meet with him in Enfield.
On Thursday, 7 May an operational team were deployed to the area of the planned meet. Detectives suddenly spotted a slim, unkempt looking man walking the streets, with his hood up whilst on his mobile phone.
Following a closer look they confirmed the man was the suspect they were searching for, having identified him from his online image. They stopped him and soon confirmed his identity was not Jason Langham but Michael Richards.
He was arrested and his mobile phone was seized. He was conveyed to Wood Green Police Station and charged as above.
Detective Inspector, Mark Rogers, from Specialist Crime Command: said: “Richards is a predatory offender and thankfully on this occasion no child was harmed.
“I would like to remind activist groups that we do have significant concerns about people taking the law into their own hands. Although seemingly well-meaning, this can significantly hinder our work, compromise on-going investigations and negate months of investigative work.
“There is also the risk that it can potentially identify people who are completely innocent and mistakenly associate them with grooming offences.
“Our advice to anyone who has concerns about online grooming, is they should report them to their local police, or to Crimestoppers. If you think a child is at immediate risk of harm call 999”