A CHILD groomer who sent an explicit photo of himself to a vulnerable schoolgirl was identified after his tattoo could be seen in the indecent image, a court heard.
Alec Wilkinson (29), of Wellgate, contacted the 13-year-old on the WhatsApp messaging service and asked if she had ever had sex and made crude invitations for her to sleep with him.
His explicit messages were discovered when the girl’s mother and sister checked her phone, said Mr Paul O’Shea, prosecuting on Tuesday at Sheffield Crown Court.
Wilkinson admitted at an earlier hearing to causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, causing a child to watch a sexual act and trying to incite a child to send naked pictures of herself.
The girl’s sister recognised Wilkinson from his profile picture on the app and when she examined the indecent picture sent by the defendant she recognised his tattoo, the prosecutor said.
“The messages were from an Alec Wilkinson,” said Mr O’Shea.
“Further examination revealed there had been some explicit communication and the police were contacted.
“Over the course of these messages Wilkinson referenced the fact the girl was too young to talk to him, but that didn’t seem to deter him.”
Mr O’Shea said that over a four-day period from March 19 last year, Wilkinson asked the girl for explicit pictures of herself.
She refused but sent him an image of breasts which were not believed to be hers, he said.
In her police interview the 13-year-old girl, who was described as vulnerable and being assessed for autism, said she had felt “sick” when he sent her the explicit image and deleted it.
Mr O’Shea added: “Every time she would look at another message, that image would be there and she would have to repeatedly delete it as it was always in her gallery.”
Wilkinson admitted in his police interview that the indecent image was of him but claimed a friend had got hold of his phone and was the one sending the messages.
He also claimed he had thought the girl was 15.
Judge Michael Slater said Wilkinson had “sexually groomed the girl” but “fortunately she didn’t respond to any suggestions of sexual intercourse or explicit pictures of herself”.
The judge said he accepted Wilkinson, who has previous for driving offences, assault and a custodial sentence for robbery, had acted “out of character”.
Judge Slater added: “Sending you to custody would render you vulnerable to other influences.
“You have mental health problems of your own in terms of depression.
“Nothing would be gained in sending you to custody straight away.”
Wilkinson was sentenced to 15 months in prison suspended for two years and handed a sexual harm prevention order, ordered to undertake a 25-day rehabilitation requirement and pay a victim surcharge.