Undercover police operation catches Southsea-based online predator

PCSOs and police officers around Priory School this afternoon

Police speak to school after fight in Southsea play park

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A MAN who thought he was chatting up a 13-year-old girl on an internet site was actually talking to an undercover police officer.

Married Gary Purkiss befriended someone he thought was a teenager called Jane online.

Their chats quickly turned to conversations about sex.

But it was when the pair arranged to meet that Jane’s true identity was revealed and Purkiss was snared.

The 51-year-old dad was convicted of attempting to meet a child for sexual gratification between September and October last year.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard that Purkiss, of Norfolk Street, Southsea, started the contact at a time when he was ‘stressed’.

Judge Sarah Munro, sentencing said: ‘You resorted in this isolated incident to behave in such a way that fell far below the standards with which you conduct and conducted your life.

‘You did so, I find, at a time of supreme stress and that is of most concern to me in this case is to why that stress made you behave in the way you did to this person you thought was a 13-year-old girl.’

Purkiss was sentenced to a year in jail. He was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years.

Judge Munro said: ‘You attempted to meet a child following sexual grooming with the intention of engaging in sexual intercourse with that child who you believed to be a 13-year-old girl.

‘In fact that person with whom you conversed on the internet was a male undercover police officer and you were caught when, for the second time, you went to meet the person you thought was a 13-year-old girl with the intention of having sexual intercourse with her.’

She added that there were mitigating factors, saying: ‘There was no 13-year-old girl in this case so there is no victim out there who had suffered as a result of the grooming in which you engaged.

‘Secondly you did not deceive the person with whom you were connecting, by for example, reducing your age.’