A pensioner claimed he was “helping protect young males” after trying to meet up with a 15-year-old boy he met on a gay dating app.
Douglas Hutchings, 75, of Whitehouse Crescent in Great Baddow, admitted he had gone to meet what he thought was a teenage boy at Promenade Park in Maldon in June last year after exchanging a string of messages showing he intended to have oral sex with the child.
Hutchings, however, claimed he had gone there to warn the boy of the dangers online and to “protect him from older men”.
Little did he know that the Grindr profile, named ‘Young’, had been set up by an investigative journalist from group CSE Interceptors, who contacted the police.
The pensioner was arrested at Prom Park and after a two-day trial, convicted of attempting to meet a child after grooming.
Two-and-a-half months on from his conviction, Hutchings, formerly of Maldon High Street, appeared before Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday (September 10) for sentencing.
Prosecuting lawyer Jane Oldfield told the court it was an attempt to meet the boy rather than a completed offence but did say the conversation indicated penetrative sexual activity and that he intended to have oral sex with the boy.
Hutchings himself claimed he was “helping young men not to put themselves at risk”.
Sparing him an immediate prison sentence, Judge Karen Walden-Smith told Hutchings: “You discovered the profile was under 16 and despite that, you made it clear to him that you were interested in sex and oral sex and that you would meet at the Prom Park in Maldon.
“You claimed to be protecting young men from older men and that they shouldn’t put themselves in positions of danger but this was dismissed by the jury.
Judge Walden-Smith sentenced Hutchings to 12 months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to sign the sex offenders register.
He was also ordered to complete 40 rehabilitation activity requirement (RAR) days and 120 hours of unpaid work.
A sexual harm prevention order was also put in place for ten years and Hutchings was also put on the banned list for working with children.
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