Man's 'addiction' to chat rooms ended with him being arrested for child sex offences
A man’s “addiction” to chat rooms ended up with him being arrested for trying to engage in sexual activity with a child.
Anthony Thomas Bateson, 50, thought he was talking to a 13-year-old girl, when in fact it was an undercover police officer.
Bateson, of Rawlinson Avenue, Billingham, pleaded guilty to trying to engage in sexual activity with a child and of trying to cause a child to look at sexual images.
Teesside Magistrates’ Court was told the explicit messages, which took place over a 12-day period, had taken place in August 2018.
Lynne Dalton, prosecuting, said: “The communication became sexual by the defendant throughout those days.
“He is reminded on a number of occasions that he thinks he is communicating with a 13-year-old girl.”
She said he also sent a video of himself touching himself on the outside of his clothing – he sent the same video twice.
Mrs Dalton said: “He said he had been using sites such as these for a number of years and was somewhat addicted.
“He said he deletes his conversations on a daily basis so his partner would not find out about it.”
A spokesman for the probation service said Bateson told him he didn’t believe the person he was talking to was 13 and so he continued his behaviour.
He said: “He said he believed they were older and that’s why he continued.
“He couldn’t articulate why he thought they were over 18.”
The officer said the defendant, who has been married for 17 years, has been sacked from his job at B&Q, where he had worked at the Stockton branch since 1998, since the offences came to light.
Stewart Haywood, defending, said although his client uses chat rooms, this was the only time he had engaged in conversations with children.
He said: “His electronic devices were tested and there was nothing of a similar nature found.
“This was the only time he was engaging in this type of activity with a child.”
Bateson was given a 24-month community order and placed on a sexual harm prevention order for five years.
He was ordered to pay £85 costs and a £90 surcharge.