A dad-of-two has been caged after trying to arrange to meet a 13-year-old girl at a McDonald’s so he could take her back to his house for sex.
Our sister site Liverpool Echo reports that 41-year-old Gareth Rogers hoped that the child he had befriended online could be his “friend with benefits” while his wife was at work.
But in fact, the pervert from New Ferry near Liverpool had been talking to an undercover police officer the whole time.
And when he turned up at the McDonald’s restaurant, he was immediately arrested.
At Liverpool Crown Court, Rogers admitted attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming and attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity.
He was jailed for two years and four months.
Rogers also admitted taking, possessing and distributing one Category C indecent image of a child.
The court heard how the officer created the decoy profile on messaging app Kik Messenger on November 15, 2019.
David Watson, prosecuting, said the officer posing as ‘Lily’ received a message from GDR1980 on January 22, 2020, who said he was 39.
Rogers said: “Looking to chat, flirt, maybe more, hoping to hear from you soon, Gareth.”
They exchanged messages as Rogers went on to say he wanted to swap nude photos, he worked from home for a software company, and Lily should delete their chats.
Mr Watson said Rogers asked Lily “if she did anything to herself” – “suggestive the prosecution say of sexual behaviour” – and the officer noted he had already been a member of Kik Messenger for 441 days.
On January 23, Lily reiterated she was 13, but Rogers requested a photo of her, which was declined, then sent a headshot of himself.
The Liverpool Echo reports Mr Watson told the court: “He said he was looking for someone to help him out of the rut his wife had created.”
On January 27, Rogers told Lily because of their ages, he had to be “careful”, and on January 30, said she had been a “tease”.
On February 18, he told her he was “looking for a friend with benefits” before asking what type of sex she was prepared to have, specifying three different types.
The prosecutor said: “He suggested meeting Lily, who told him she was off school. He specified the dates that were best for him as his wife was at work.”
On February 19, Rogers made an arrangement to meet her two days later at McDonald’s.
Mr Watson said: “The defendant said if it was going to be her first time they could do as little or as much as she wished.”
Rogers also requested nude photos, which he said would help prepare her to get over the “hurdle”.
On February 20, he asked whether she was a police officer or connected to police, but he went ahead with the meet.
He was arrested outside the restaurant.
Mr Watson said: “He claimed he was going to meet Lily to tell her that nothing would happen between them.
“In fact, say the prosecution, the last message he sent suggested she order some food so they could eat it in his car on the way back to his house.”
Rogers confessed he thought Lily was 13, said he was “stupid”, and he “didn’t know why he hadn’t stopped sooner”.
Cheryl Mottram, defending, said her client, who has no previous convictions, was “genuinely remorseful”.
She said: “He can offer no real explanation as to why he engaged in the chat that he did during the period of time that he did, and he finds it difficult in his own mind to reconcile his behaviour during this period of time with the man he’s been up to that point.”
Ms Mottram said “fortunately” the girl wasn’t real, but his actions had “far-reaching consequences, not just for himself”.
She said Rogers’ wife had suffered “taunts” from people in the community who were aware of what he was in court for.
The lawyer said his partner had been left to struggle on her own and found it “very emotionally draining”, but Rogers “has only himself to blame”.
Ms Mottram said her client was no longer working, but as the main “breadwinner”, he was now borrowing money from his dad to cover their mortgage and bills.
Judge Anil Murray said Rogers believed he was talking with a 13-year-old girl when he arranged to meet her.
He said: “I understand the devastation this must-have on your family, but as Ms Mottram says, I’m afraid that is your fault.
“You’ve left your wife struggling with the children.”
Judge Murray read a letter from Rogers’ wife “to say she has forgiven you” and “otherwise you’re a wonderful father”.
Jailing him for two years and four months, Judge Murray said Rogers must sign on the Sex Offenders Register and comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years.
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