Paedophile caught by police in online sting
- Credit: ARCHANT
An ex-serviceman from Wisbech discussed sexual abuse of children on an online platform but didn’t realise he was chatting with a police officer, a court heard.
Lee Courtney, of North Brink, appeared before magistrates in Peterborough on Monday for sentencing, having pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to making indecent photographs of children.
The 30-year-old admitted having made four images of category A (the most serious), two of category B and 37 of category C between January 1 and May 19, 2020.
Prosecutor Micaila Williams said while the numbers were “relatively low” and included some duplicates, Courtney’s conduct which led to the discovery of the images was of concern.
Using the account name Pervdad90, he had engaged in messaging an undercover officer for around 12 hours one day.
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The disturbing content – which was detailed to the court – and further messages on a more secure platform caused officers to believe offences had taken place.
Courtney was arrested on May 19 last year.
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Prosecutor Micaila Williams said: “Upon arrest, Mr Courtney was heard to tell his wife ‘I’ve done something stupid online.”
In interview, Courtney admitted saying the content of the messaging but insisted it was fantasy and he was trying to get attention from the person he was speaking to.
An investigation of his internet search history disclosed more incriminating evidence.
The bench was told Courtney had no previous convictions.
In mitigation, solicitor Julie Murtagh said: “You are dealing with a 30-year-old man of good character.
"Not just somebody of good character but someone who has served in the military for seven years.”
Miss Murtagh said he had served in Afghanistan and had to deal with the death of a good friend in combat.
His pornography “addiction” had begun after his service and was not helped by long periods on his own as a lorry driver, she added.
Courtney was given 26 weeks’ custody for each of the three offences, suspended for two years.
He was ordered to do 35 rehabilitation activity requirement days as part of a community order and told to pay £128 victim surcharge and £85 costs.
A sexual harm prevention order was imposed and Courtney must sign the sex offenders’ register for seven years.