Police warn sex predators: The internet is no hiding place
Police have warned predators that the internet is not a hiding place after a grandfather was found with a sickening horde of restraints and alcohol in his car as he waited to meet a '˜13-year-old girl' for sex.
Brian Pepper admitted attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity and attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.
After Pepper was jailed, investigating officer Det Insp Gary Towse said that many offenders believed that they could operate undetected on the internet but that the case proved otherwise.
He said that the sentence sent a clear message that police would use all resources to hunt down predators using the internet to try to find victims.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard yesterday Pepper was snared following a covert online operation by police officers working in the Internet Child Abuse Team and the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit.
They set up a fake online profile of a schoolgirl following complaints from parents about him contacting their daughters.
Pepper believed he had been talking to a 13-year-old girl over three weeks between September and October last year.
He repeatedly asked the girl to meet up with him and discussed having sex until they eventually arranged to meet at Burger King, in Havant, on October 14.
He had booked a hotel in Arundel, 20 miles away.
Instead he was met by police officers who found the sickening stash of sado-masochistic restraints – including canes, ropes, cords and belts – vodka and wine in a holdall in the footwell of the car.
He had spoken to the girl about dungeons and had accessed sado-masochistic sex sites online.
It was revealed in court that in 1967, the then 16-year-old Pepper was convicted of sexual assaults on girls aged six and nine.
In mitigation Sam Barker said Pepper, a stock auditor, was ‘an extremely shy man’ who had taken comfort by retreating into this own private world for his entire life.
He said the onset of the internet age had given Pepper a confidence and boldness he would never have had in real life.
Describing Pepper, 65, of Homer Close, Gosport, as ‘quite an odd man’, Mr Barker added: ‘Had (the girl) got in the car he would have been as scared as she would be.’
Sentencing Pepper, Judge Sarah Munro QC said she believed, if the girl had been real, he would have had sex with her, due to his deep-rooted interest in young teenage girls.
Pepper was given four years for incitement and 12 months, to run concurrently, for attempting to meet a child for sexual grooming.
He will be on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life and subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order when he is released from prison.