Paedophile foiled by undercover officer

David Harper was sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court, yesterday, May 13.

David Harper was sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court, yesterday, May 13. - Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

A paedophile sent pictures of his genitalia to a police officer in the mistaken belief they were a 12-year-old girl.

David Harper, of Huntingdon Road, Wyton, began messaging the officer on February 27 2019, and the chat lasted two days.

In that time, Harper, 33, sent five explicit images. Research identified Harper and he was arrested on his way to work.

His phone was seized along with two laptops and a USB from a house in Hauxton where he lived at the time.

The devices were analysed and a review of data on his phone highlighted a clear sexual interest in children.

In police interview, Harper admitted speaking to the “girl” but claimed he knew she was really an adult and sent pictures of his genitalia to her “for a laugh”.

He claimed he wouldn’t have spoken to her if he had thought she was 12. He then answered ‘no comment’ to all other questions.

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However, he later pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, at Peterborough Crown Court yesterday, May 13.

DC Caroline Murphy, who investigated, said: “Harper’s behaviour was completely inappropriate and shocking; using the internet in this way will not be tolerated.

“Mobile phones and social media mean children can be vulnerable to those who prey on their innocence and exploit their trust. In this case Harper was stopped and arrested thanks to the work of one of our officers.

“Protecting young people from harm is one of our top priorities and we will continue to work tirelessly to keep our communities safe.”

Anyone who is concerned someone may have been convicted of a sex offence, and could be posing a risk to someone, can apply for disclosure information through Sarah’s Law: https://bit.ly/2RQ3z0a

For information and advice about child abuse, including online grooming, visit the force’s dedicated child protection web page: https://bit.ly/3octye

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