Sheffield dad jailed for attempting to groom 12-year-old girl who turned out to be undercover police officer

A Sheffield dad has been jailed after the 12-year-old girl that he met online, and subsequently attempted to groom, turned out to be an undercover police officer.
A Sheffield dad has been jailed after the 12-year-old girl that he met online, and subsequently attempted to groom, turned out to be an undercover police officer.
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A Sheffield dad has been jailed after the 12-year-old girl that he met online, and subsequently attempted to groom, turned out to be an undercover police officer.

Sheffield Crown Court was told how towards the end of 2015 Steven Darby, 43, started messaging someone with the username Lizzy12UK that he met online in the Kids' Chat chatroom which is aimed at children aged between 13 and 16-years-old.

Prosecuting, Andrew Smith, said Darby believed her to be a 12-year-old girl, and shortly after initiating contact with her in the chatroom he invited her to message with him on Skype -where he shared pictures of his face and his genitalia with her.

Darby, who admitted to being 43-years-old, soon began making inappropriate sexual comments, and invited her to come and 'share his bed'.

The undercover officer was speaking to Darby as part of Operation Rosa, which targets sex offenders attempting to groom children online, and through the email address he used for Skype, officers were able to trace Darby to an address in Crag View Crescent, Oughtibridge.

After arresting Darby, officers confiscated his Toshiba laptop for forensic evidence, and found almost 100 indecent images of children on his hard drive.

A total of 23 of the images were deemed to be Category A, which is the most serious offence category. A further three images were found to be in Category B and a total of 72 images were Category C.

Mr Smith told the court that forensic officers determined Darby, who is a father to two young daughters, had downloaded a further 2,516 images but they were unable to retrieve them.

Darby was also found to have distributed four indecent images, one of which was of a nine-month-old baby girl being abused.

He admitted to three counts of producing indecent images of a child, one of distributing indecent images of a child and a further charge of attempting to cause or incite a child under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity at an earlier hearing.

Defending, James Gould, said that Darby's offending had led to the breakdown of his marriage, and to social services monitoring his involvement with his children.

He said: "His own mental health has declined and there were two serious attempts to take his life."

Mr Gould added that since his offending was revealed, Darby had made serious attempts to rehabilitate himself and had completed a number of online modules aimed at preventing him from sexual offending, as recommended by the charity Stop It Now.

Sentencing him to two years in prison, Judge Roger Thomas said: "On first glance, you appear to be an unremarkable man.

"You have shown that you have a very dark, evil side to you.

He added: "The point that needs to be understood is that you were looking at the most terrible of things that were happening somewhere, to real children.

"But those things wouldn't be happening if it wasn't for people like you accessing the resulting images."