Paedophile jailed after being caught in undercover police sting operation

A persistent paedophile who was caught by an undercover police operation has been jailed for more than four years.

Friday, 20th July 2018, 2:40 pm
Updated Friday, 20th July 2018, 2:47 pm
The case was heard at Teesside Crown Court.

Ashley Colville made a series of sexual comments online to 'Hannah', who he believed to be an 11-year-old girl.

Colville told a jury he thought Hannah was a member of an anti-paedophile vigilante group, and he had played along to expose what he regarded as their tactics of entrapment.

"The defendant has a significant record of sexual offending against children," said Aisha Wadoodi, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court.

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"As part of sentences for that offending he was made the subject of two orders restricting his internet use, and when at liberty, restricting his unsupervised contact with children.

"While living in a bail hostel, Colville used an internet enabled smart phone to enter a teenage chat room.

"In the chat room he met Hannah, who was not a vigilante but an undercover police officer.

"Colville engaged Hannah in conversation which soon became sexual.

"This continued despite her telling him she was not yet 12.

"Colville asked her if she had 'done it', and said he liked spanking during sex.

"In summary, he engaged her in conversation, groomed her, quickly turning the conversation to sex."

Colville made no comment when interviewed by police.

"He later filed what we lawyers call a defence statement," Ms Wadoodi told the jury.

"In that, he says he knew Hannah was a vigilante, and played along with her with that in mind.

"The prosecution say it's obvious from the content of the messages he thought he was dealing with an 11-year-old girl."

Colville, 28, formerly of Cotswold Place, Peterlee, now of no fixed abode, denied breach of a sexual harm prevention order, and he denied engaging a child in sexual conversation.

He was convicted of both offences after a trial lasting three days.

Paul Abrahams, mitigating said Colville still denies the offences.

"About all that can fairly be said on his behalf is there was no physical contact with or abuse of children," added Mr Abrahams.

Recorder Andrew Sutcliffe QC, jailed Colville for four years and six months.

The recorder told him: "It is clear from your record you have a sexual interest in children.

"You knew fine well you were the subject of a harm prevention order, and what that meant you should not do.

"But you paid the order no attention, effectively ripping it up as soon as you were given it.

"It hard to imagine how a breach of that order could be any more flagrant."

Colville remains the subject of a lifelong order restricting his internet use, and banning him from unsupervised contact with children.