'Rather pathetic' dad arranged to meet girl after losing job following lockdown

A ‘rather pathetic’ dad who lost his job because of the coronavirus turned to online chat rooms and arranged to meet a ’13 year old girl’, a court heard. Ronald Simpson, 50, has been spared jail after the ‘girl’ he thought he was speaking to online was actually an undercover police officer. He made sexual innuendos during the ‘flirtatious’ chat with the ‘girl’, and arranged to meet her at a retail park in Salford.

But when he arrived, Simpson, from Wythenshawe, was met by police officers. Manchester Crown Court heard that Simpson, who had previously worked as a warehouse manager and forklift truck driver, had lost his job following the lockdown.

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His lawyer Max Saffman, who described Simpson as a ‘rather pathetic 50-year-old’, said the defendant turned to drink and cannabis. He said Simpson also began to access ‘sites he wouldn’t have normally have gone on’. In June he started speaking to the ‘girl’ online before moving to WhatsApp.

Manchester Crown Court heard that Simpson, who had previously worked as a warehouse manager and forklift truck driver, had lost his job following the lockdown

The ‘girl’ told Simpson she was 13, and the defendant told ‘her’ he was 50, prosecutor Julian Taylor said.

Simpson told ‘her’ he ‘couldn’t wait to spend time with you’. They arranged to meet in Salford on June 11, but officers pounced when he arrived and smashed a window of his car to seize a mobile phone. It was later found to contain two indecent images of children, one of category B and one of category C.

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Simpson’s lawyer admitted the defendant had come up with ‘lame excuses’ after being arrested, claiming he was trying to ‘save’ the ‘girl’ and ‘return her to the safety of her mother’.

Defending, Mr Saffman said Simpson’s life ‘spiralled down’ after he lost his job following the lockdown. He said Simpson ‘came to his senses’ when the police struck, and he is now ‘bitterly regrets’ his actions and is remorseful. Sentencing, Judge Elizabeth Nicholls told Simpson: “These offences are serious and concerning.

You knew what you were doing. “You believed you were communicating with a 13-year-old girl.” The court heard that Simpson told the probation service that he turned to chat rooms after becoming ‘bored’ and ‘lonely’.

“But that is not the reality here,” the judge continued.

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“It is simply an excuse that you gave yourself. The reality is that you have a problem.” The judge said sending Simpson to jail would not address his ‘underlying problems’, saying there is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation in his case.

Simpson was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for two years.

He must also complete the Horizon sex offenders program, and complete 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

Simpson, of Longley Lane, Wythenshawe, pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a child following grooming, attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and possessing indecent images of children.

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