A BARRISTER representing a paedophile snared for online grooming drew a scornful retort from a judge after citing Covid restrictions as a possible factor in the man’s offending.
Defence lawter Mr Matthew Burdon said 31-year-old Matthew Parker had had “far too much time on his hands” in August 2020 and had been “drawn to the internet”, where he sent sexualised messages and explicit photos to a fake profile set up by police purporting to represent a 13-year-old girl.
At Mr Burdon’s suggestion that Parker had become “somewhat isolated” during the lockdown, Judge Rachael Harrison hit back: “Everyone was isolated and dealing with the effects of the pandemic.
“They did not all decide to go and make sexualised contact with someone they thought was 13.”
Mr Burdon had said Parker, of Moorgate Road, was embarrassed and ashamed by his offending and “cannot full explain why he committed this offence”.
Sheffield Crown Court heard Parker, who worked as a builder, had sent several messages to “Sophie” — a profile set up by police in Wales — on social media.
Despite being told she was 13, Parker had turned the conversation sexual and asked if she had ever “gone to the gym to perv on muscly guys”.
Mr Ian West, prosecuting, said Parker had asked “Sophie” to send photos of herself and sent three explicit images of himself over social media.
Judge Harrison told Parker: “Over a five-day period, you attempted to engage a child in sexual communication.
“You decided to corrupt what you thought was a 13-year-old.
“There are concerning search terms on your computer.”
The judge sentenced Parker to ten months in prison but decided to suspend the sentence for two years.
She ordered Parker to take part in a rehabilitation programme and carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.
And in a stark warning about the dangers of reoffending, Judge Harrison added: “It did not escape my notice that you walked in without a bag.
“Let me promise you this — if you come back here because you don’t do any part of this (sentence), you are to bring a bag with you as I will keep my promise and you will go to prison.”