Suspended jail term for man who asked teen girl for naked photo

Niall Horn will go on trial at Ipswich Crown Court

Bruce Steward admitted the charges at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: ARCHANT

An Ipswich man who had a sexually explicit chat on an instant messaging phone app with someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl has been given a suspended prison sentence.

During the 90-minute conversation on Kik Messenger, Bruce Steward asked the girl to send him a naked picture of herself but she had refused and reminded him that she was only 13, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Steward,who was 22, at the time of the conversation in 2014, had also asked the girl if she was a virgin and asked her if he could kiss her feet, said Richard Potts, prosecuting.

The court heard that police officers went to Steward’s former home in Needham Market in February 2019 and seized a desktop computers and a mobile phone.

When the devices were analysed they were found to contain four indecent still images of children in the most serious level A category,  two indecent still images of a child in category B and 14 indecent still images of a child in the lowest level C category.

Mr Potts said the images were of boys and girls aged between 12 to 16.

He said the images had been accessed by Steward in 2013 and were last viewed in 2014.

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Steward, now aged 30, of Lupin Way, Ipswich, admitted three offences of possessing indecent images of children and attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity.

He was given a 16-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to attend a sex offenders' treatment programme.

He was also given a 40-day rehabilitation activity requirement, ordered to do 100 hours' unpaid work and to pay £500 costs.

He was also made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

Sentencing Steward, Judge Emma Peters said it was not clear if the person he was chatting to on Kik Messenger was really a 13-year-old girl.

Adam Norris, for Steward, said the offences were  committed several years ago and his client was so terrified of being sent to prison that he was unlikely to reoffend.

He said Steward’s issues could best be addressed in the community with a sex offenders' programme and a rehabilitation activity requirement.

“This is not a case where putting him behind bars is going to serve anyone very well,” said Mr Norris.