A 47-year-old man has been sentenced to six months in prison for attempting to cause a child to look at an image of sexual activity and breaching a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
Between July 24-26, 2023, Ross Barker, previously of Northampton, engaged in an online conversation with someone he believed was a father who was sexually active with a 13-year-old boy.
In the exchange of private messages, Barker expressed his interest in meeting the unknown man with the view of engaging in sexual activity with him, and together, sexually abusing the teenager.
Believing the man would facilitate the abuse of the child, Barker explained in detail what he wanted to do when they met and shared a sexually explicit “live” image of himself, asking the man to share the image with the boy.
However, the “father” was in fact a police officer from the East Midlands Special Operations Unit, working as part of a covert operation to safeguard and protect children from predators who use various internet connections to engage in sexual activity online.
On Wednesday, October 4, last year, officers from Northamptonshire Police’s Online Child Abuse Investigation Unit (OCAIU) executed a warrant at Barker’s home address where he was arrested, and his electronic devices seized.
He was subsequently charged with one count of being an offender 18 or over attempting to cause a child 13-15 to watch/look at an image of sexual activity, one count of breaching his Sexual Harm Prevention Order and two counts of failing to comply with the Sexual Offenders Register.
On Thursday, October 5, Barker appeared before Northampton Magistrates’ Court, where his case was transferred to Northampton Crown Court for trial, however on Thursday, November 16, he pleaded guilty to all charges.
Barker returned to the same court on Friday, January 12, when he was handed a six-month prison sentence and ordered to pay £187 victim surcharge.
Investigating officer, PC Holly Morgan-Humphrey said: “The private conversations Ross Barker had with the police officer were very disturbing and therefore I am really pleased that he has been brought to justice.
“Although thankfully there was not a real child in this case, it does not lessen the seriousness of it at all because Barker fully believed he was talking to someone who would let him sexually abuse a 13-year-old boy.
“I hope this case reassures the public that we are working proactively with our colleagues at EMSOU to continue to keep children in Northamptonshire safe and to bring anyone who threatens that safety to justice.”