A Crowborough man is the first offender in Sussex to be convicted of possession of a ‘paedophile manual’.
John Pratt, 63, retired, of Pilmer Road, Crowborough, was fined £500 at Hove Crown Court on Friday (15 February) having pleading guilty to possessing a spreadsheet he had compiled containing details of young girls he had contacted, contrary to Section 69 of the Serious Crime Act 2015.
He had previously been convicted in July 2017 taking, making and distributing a total of 4,595 indecent images of children and was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment. At that hearing he was also made a registered sex offender for ten years and given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) also for ten years.
Detective Sergeant Lou Hays of the Sussex Police Paedophile Online investigation Team (POLIT) said; "In 2017 we also found on Pratt’s computer, the spreadsheet he had created, with details and comments about hundreds of contacts who represented themselves as teenage girls, with whom he had engaged in sexualised chat. The contacts were from all over the country, although most were in the South East, the area where he lives.
"The spreadsheet also contained a home-made instruction sheet he had created, apparently ready to share with girls he wanted to meet with a briefing on secrecy, pre-written text giving advice on how to hide and disguise his number so that he wouldn’t get caught and arrested, where to meet, how to avoid cameras if they wanted to touch, and other advice.
“However before we could prosecute Pratt over the 'manual' it was necessary to carry out thorough checks to identify people mentioned in it, for any evidence of actual contact offences and for obvious safeguarding reasons.
"From our investigation it became that almost all were like-minded adults, mainly men, engaging in sexualised chat for a variety of motives. In a very small number of cases where we identified actual children who might have been at risk, details were passed to the local force for further safeguarding work.
“We did not find sufficient evidence to prove that he had actually set out to meet any girls, and we did not find evidence of offences by anyone else, but his sustained and systematic interest in young teenage girls, and that of so many other men, is clear and very worrying."
For further information on sources of advice and information about child sexual abuse see the Sussex Police website.
Author; Tim Mahony
Newsdesk Guidance; A police photo of Pratt is not being released as he did not receive an immediate custodial sentence in this case.