Bar­man caught in sting after ar­rang­ing to meet boy jailed

Ex­clu­sive

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Police Chief - By Paul Hooper phooper@thek­m­group.co.uk @Paul­hoop­erkm

A bar­man who thought he was meet­ing a 14-year-old boy for sex has been jailed for 10 months after he was caught in a secret sting by a vig­i­lante group.

Si­mon Bur­rin, 37, who worked at Limes in Rose­mary Lane, had ad­mit­ting send­ing dis­gust­ing sex im­ages to some­one he be­lieved was an un­der­age teenager and then ar­rang­ing to spend the night with him.

But Can­ter­bury Crown Court heard the boy was in fact an anti-pae­dophile in­ves­ti­ga­tions group called In­ter­net In­ter­cep­tors.

It is be­lieved to be one of the first cases in­volv­ing such a group to be brought to Can­ter­bury Crown Court.

Bur­rin, who now lives at a pub in Heath­field, East Sus­sex, had con­tacted what he thought was the teenager on dat­ing app Grindr and sent him five im­ages of him­self.

He claimed he had just ended a seven-year re­la­tion­ship and was at a low ebb when he be­gan the on­line ex­change, of­fer­ing to meet the boy after drink­ing.

Judge James O’ma­hony said he ac­cepted Bur­rin was a hard­work­ing man with no pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions for sex­ual of­fences.

But he added that the courts had a duty to pro­tect chil­dren from po­ten­tial ac­tiv­ity such as this. He said the ‘vic­tim’ was not a real boy and con­sent­ing adults could ex­change sex talk on­line. “But the court must pro­tect chil­dren from po­ten­tial harm from sex­ual ac­tiv­ity on the in­ter­net,” he added.

Bur­rin ad­mit­ted two charges of at­tempt­ing to meet a child fol­low­ing sex­ual groom­ing and at­tempt­ing to cause a child to watch a sex­ual act.

His ar­rest fol­lowed a covert op­er­a­tion car­ried out by In­ter­net In­ter­cep­tors, who claim he sent five in­de­cent im­ages to the ‘fake’ school­boy.

The in­ci­dent took place at about 10.30pm on July 25 this year, when the vig­i­lantes con­fronted the mem­ber of staff as he worked be­hind the bar.

Five videos were then posted on the group’s Face­book page. In one, the bar­man says that he had only in­tended to meet the child for “cud­dles”.

He is filmed say­ing: “I’m a silly boy, well, silly man re­ally. I can’t ex­plain it.”

De­spite the con­vic­tion, Det Insp Rob Chitham, of Kent Police’s pae­dophile on­line in­ves­ti­ga­tion team, has warned against the ac­tions of vig­i­lante groups.

He said: “Tak­ing the law into your own hands can be dan­ger­ous and in­evitably leads to the iden­tity of the al­leged pae­dophile be­ing re­vealed, of­ten on the ba­sis of lit­tle or flawed in­for­ma­tion.

“This fre­quently leads to sus­pects be­ing threat­ened and di­verts sig­nif­i­cant police re­sources into pro­tect­ing them. I would like to re­as­sure the pub­lic that we pro-ac­tively tar­get this type of of­fence and work hard to gather ev­i­dence in a law­ful man­ner that will stand up in court.”

Si­mon Bur­rin has been jailed after he was trapped in a pae­dophile sting

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