Sheffield Crown Court: 'Painfully lonely' Rotherham man sent photos of his genitals to cop posing as girl, 12
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A Rotherham man who exchanged sexual messages with who he thought was a 12-year-old girl and downloaded dozens of child abuse images has walked away from court with a suspended sentence.
Louise Gallagher, prosecuting, told Sheffield Crown Court that 24-year-old Kier Hearn began exchanging messages with an individual purporting to be a 12-year-old girl called Megan through an online platform in February 2022.
The decoy account was actually being operated by a police officer, Ms Gallagher said, adding that the communication was initiated by Hearn, after he sent 'Megan' a message request on February 12, 2022.
"Chat messages were exchanged until March 2, 2022. The decoy told the defendant she was 12, and wanted to make friends. He told her he was 22. There was general conversation, as well as communication of a sexual nature," Ms Gallagher said.
Ms Gallagher told the court that 'Megan' described another communication she had been having with a man who wanted 'weird things done to him,' and Hearn responded by telling her she 'should be careful because there are nonces around'.
Despite this warning, Hearn subsequently asked 'Megan' if she had any experience kissing, if she had ever sent nudes, before going on to ask if she had ever masturbated and discussing 'how to do it,' the court heard.
He sent her two indecent images.
"He asked how much sex education she’d had, asked if she was on the pill for her periods. He later asked her for a live picture, and he was sent a picture of a 12-year-old girl…he then sent her two pictures of his face, and a picture of his erect penis," Ms Gallagher said.
"There came a point where he said he would never ask her for nudes, because he is 'not a paedo, lol'."
His home was raided and a mobile phone was seized. 50 child sexual abuse images were found, including three of Category A is which is the most serious of the legal categories, and is defined as those which show children being raped.
Police also found seven Category B images; 40 Category C images, and two prohibited images.
They involved children aged between eight and 13-years-old.
During a subsequent police interview, Hearn, of Ashwood Road, Parkgate, Rotherham, claimed he assumed he was talking to a 'paedo hunter' although he was 'unable to explain why he had sent a picture of his penis,' Ms Gallagher said.
Hearn was subsequently charged with, and pleaded guilty to, offences of possessing indecent images of children and attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.
Kristina Goodwin, defending, said Hearn had expressed 'shame and disgust' for his actions to the author of his pre-sentence report.
She described Hearn as a 'painfully lonely individual' who 'struggles socially to an extreme' degree.
The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremey Richardson KC, sentenced Hearn to 12 months’ custody, suspended for two years.
He described Hearn as someone who was 'much to be pitied,' but said he believed there to be 'considerable hope that he can be rehabilitated'. He warned Hearn that if he 'steps out of line' his sentence will be activated, and his 'life ruined'.
Hearn was also made the subject of a 10-year sexual harm prevention order and was ordered to complete 60 rehabilitation activity requirement days.