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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
National
Gemma Bradley

Paedophile asked 'schoolboy' to send him images

A convicted paedophile broke his conditions by engaging in sexual conversation with what he believed to be a 13-year-old boy.

Leon Roach, 28, of no fixed abode, appeared at Liverpool Crown Court on Friday after pleading guilty to one count of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, and two counts of engaging in regulated activity from which he was barred. Derek Jones, prosecuting, detailed that in 2015, Roach committed sexual offences against a child under 13, and was given a hospital order instead of imprisonment and subjected to a sexual harm prevention order for five years.

As part of that order, he was barred indefinitely from undertaking regulated activities that may involve children, which included working as an ambulance volunteer. On February 19, last year, he was stopped by police while a passenger in a Volvo with three on board, all wearing paramedic uniforms with ‘ambulance’ written on the back.

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It was established he was involved in the charity Rapid Response North West alongside his then-partner, who said Roach was in training and not fully participating. Two days later, Roach breached the order again by applying for a DBS check to allow him to continue to volunteer with the charity, knowing he was not permitted to do so.

Approximately a week later, after being released under investigation, Roach began a conversation with what he believed to be a 13-year-old boy, via a Facebook account created by a paedophile hunter group. Very early in the conversation, the ‘boy’ told Roach his age, and they exchanged a series of messages before Roach asked if the conversation be moved to Snapchat, as it was “safer”.

Mr Jones said: “They talked about whether they should continue talking, because of the defendant's age. Mr Roach said ‘you probably don’t want an older person messaging you’, to which the ‘boy’ responded ‘I talk to anyone who is kind’, and Roach said ‘as long as I don’t get in the s**t for speaking to you'.”

A court heard that Roach called the boy “cute”, asked for naked pictures of him, and spoke on numerous occasions about keeping their conversations a secret, stating “do not tell anyone about anything”. The 28-year-old told the decoy to “always delete our chats so I won’t get in the s**t for speaking to you”, and “I know it sounds wrong but I do think you are cute”.

He asked if the ‘boy’ liked girls, and in an effort to convince the decoy to send a naked picture of himself, he promised he would not “share it with anyone else”. Roach told the boy: “I fancy you but I know it’s wrong because you are younger than me”, and “I think you are amazing and I like you a lot”.

Roach attempted to groom the decoy for around a month but there were gaps in communications. In April, the paedophile hunter group contacted the defendant from another account of an adult male, who arranged to meet at Roach’s home in Wallasey on April 6 at 9pm.

Roach was then detained by three members of the group and police were called before he was arrested. The 28-year-old has several previous convictions including further breaches of the sexual harm prevention order he was subjected to in 2015.

Peter Barnett, defending, said his client did cease contact with the decoy and that is when the group re-contacted Roach under the alias of an adult male. He highlighted Roach’s mental health difficulties, stating that during his three months in custody prior to being sentenced in 2015, his mental health deteriorated so severely that a hospital order was implemented as an alternative to immediate custody.

Mr Barnett also said that the DBS form was completed by the defendant’s then-partner, as he did not have the capacity to complete it himself. He said Roach has ADHD which limits his ability to consider the consequences of his actions, and he would be extremely vulnerable in custody.

In sentencing, Recorder Iain Harris KC said: “You thought you were talking to a 13-year-old male. You said in conversations that you found he was cute and that you fancied him, and that you and him should keep things secret and delete chats.

“You were trying to groom a 13-year-old boy.” Roach was sentenced to eight years imprisonment and a deprivation order was made with regards to the phone seized.

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