A SOUTH Lakeland businessman caught trying to meet someone he thought was a 12-year-old girl in a park after sexualised online chat has been jailed for a year.
Darren Knowles, 47, was sentenced at Carlisle Crown Court for a raft of offences which occurred around the turn of this year.
Knowles engaged in online chat with what he thought was a 12-year-old, whom he called his “sexy new friend” and urged: “Don’t tell anyone.” But Knowles was actually corresponding with an undercover policewoman. And when he tried to arrange a meeting between the pair at a park in Lancashire, officers moved in and arrested him.
Illegal images were found on his phone, and it emerged Knowles was involved in sexualised online chat with two others he thought were girls aged 13 and 15.
A man of previous good character, he admitted five charges: three of attempted sexual communication with a child, one of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming, and possessing four extreme pornographic images.
Character references were provided for Knowles who, the court heard, had his own building business, a wife and family. His barrister, Kim Whittlestone, said he was “at a loss” to explain his criminal conduct, adding: “He is very much aware of the devastating impact his offending behaviour will have on those closest to him.”
Judge James Adkin jailed Knowles, of Helmside Road, Oxenholme, concluding: “In my judgement this case is so serious that only an immediate custodial sentence can be imposed.” Knowles must sign the sex offenders’ register, and abide by the terms of a sexual harm prevention order, for 10 years.