South Yorkshire man who groomed underage “girls” in denial about offences

A South Yorkshire man who tried to groom what he thought were two 14-year old girls was really talking to decoys set up by two different online vigilante groups, Sheffield Crown Court has heard.

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 3:00 pm

Charles Warhurst contacted "Mia Smith", an online identity set up by "UK Justice", and “Hannah”, invented by "Justice for the Innocent," in 2018, said prosecutor Simon Reevell.

Pretending to be "Charlie 28" with a fake ID picture, Warhurst's four month conversations with "Mia" became "increasingly sexualised" as he "asked about her underwear and what the experience of touching her intimately would be like."

"Using Facebook, members of UK Justice were able to determine where he lived, and on December 1, 2018, they appeared outside his home," said Mr Reevell.

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Online grooming.

"Allegations were made and evidence was supplied. He denied anything inappropriate in an interview with police."

Matthew Burdon, mitigating, said Warhurst, of previous good character, has not yet acknowledged the offences.

“It is troubling,” he said. “He has not yet had the opportunity to discuss his offending behaviour with professionals.

"This is not uncommon at this stage. This is a man who would benefit from further intervention. He has had two years to consider his behaviour.

“He doesn't intend to return to his family but is supported in court by his partner of 27 years. He wants to make some recompense for what he has put his family through.

"He made no attempts to meet these two decoys. This is a man who is not beyond redemption.”

Warhurst, 48, of Brameld Road, Rawmarsh, Rotherham, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual communication with a child, on November 19.

Judge Sarah Wright told him he showed “an astonishing lack of insight into his offending.”

“The pre-sentence report was troubling,” she added. “You seem to be in denial. Clearly you have a sexual interest in children. You are currently a threat to children. A person with a perverted sexual interest in children plainly poses a threat to children. However, you have kept out of trouble for two years.”

The judge sentenced him to 12 months in prison suspended for two years, and ordered him to attend a 38 day programme to address his offending with 15 rehabilitation days.

Read the latest cases from Sheffield Crown Court here.

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