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Child groomer caught trying to meet 13-year-old girl in park for sex

PUBLISHED: 14:35 14 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:35 14 July 2020

Neil Baker received a two-year suspended sentence at Ipswich Crown Court  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Neil Baker received a two-year suspended sentence at Ipswich Crown Court Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

A paedophile caught in the act of trying to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex has narrowly avoided going straight to jail.

Neil Baker thought he was meeting a girl called Emily at Christchurch Park – but was instead met by plain-clothes police officers who wrested a mobile phone containing incriminating messages from his grasp.

Baker, 40, of Broom Hill Road, Ipswich, initiated conversation with a police decoy on the Kik Messenger app on August 6 last year sending sexually explicit messages, images and videos under the username neilbaker39 – before arranging to meet a mile away from his home on August 16.

Upon arrest, he denied knowing the girl was under 18, and made no comment in police interview, but later admitted attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming and attempted sexual communication with a child at Ipswich Crown Court in January.

He returned to the same court on Tuesday to receive a suspended prison sentence and be made the subject of an order restricting contact with girls under 16.

Jamie Sawyer, prosecuting, said ‘Emily’ had made it clear she was 13 from the first communication with Baker, who replied that he did not mind and suggested she say nothing to anyone about their conversations, which quickly turned sexual and included requests for images and videos.

On August 14, Baker made plans to meet the girl and engage in sexual activity in the woods at Christchurch Park two days later, when he was arrested by police officers, who had to prise a mobile phone from his hands.

“Penetrative sexual activity appears to have been intended,” added Mr Sawyer, who said Baker’s culpability was not diminished by the absence of a real victim.

The court heard Baker had no previous convictions for sex offences and had gone eight years without any offending.

He was said to be “deeply ashamed” of his actions and keen to address the behaviour.

A probation report assessed Baker as suitable for the Horizon rehabilitation programme for male adult sex offenders.

Judge David Goodin handed him a two-year custodial sentence, suspended for two years, with 15 days of rehabilitation and 30 days on the Horizon programme.

Baker must also sign the sex offenders’ register and will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years.


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