A paedophile has been jailed after he travelled more than 100 miles to meet an underage girl which turned out to be a police decoy.
Leslie Gearing, 78, went from his home in McKenzie Road, Chatham, to Central Park in Peterborough on February 20 after arranging to meet up with a 13-year-old girl.
He began grooming the “girl” online in December, exchanging messages and sending multiple sexually-explicit images.
He asked all traces be cleared of their conversations and said any photos he received would be put in an encrypted folder on his computer’s hard drive.
He complimented the girl’s appearance but unbeknown to him he was speaking to an undercover police officer.
Gearing said she was a “very pretty girl” and he wanted to take naked photos of her and have sex.
He was arrested upon his arrival in Peterborough in a pre-planned operation carried out by members of the Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT).
A search of the man’s car found child-size underwear, sex toys and camera equipment.
More than 30,000 indecent images of children were discovered on different devices in his home and a further examination found more sexual communications with children and adults, with some attempts to arrange sexual activities with minors.
On Monday (September 18), at Cambridge Crown Court, Gearing was jailed for three years and 11 months.
He pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent photographs of a child, three counts of attempted sexual communication with a child and two counts of causing a child aged 13 to 15 to watch or look at an image of sexual activity.
He also admitted two counts of distributing an indecent photograph of a child, one count of possession of an extreme pornographic image and one count of attempting to meet a child under 16 following grooming.
Gearing was found guilty of a further count of attempting to meet a child under 16 following grooming and this was ordered to lie on file.
DC Cheryl Lee, from the POLIT, said: “Gearing, through his self-serving depravity, was prepared to travel more than 100 miles with no care for the physical and emotional damage he would have caused by engaging in sexual activity with an underage child.
“The items he brought with him show just how much of a risk he poses to children. Thankfully he has been exposed and caught and will be held accountable for his actions.
“We will leave no stone unturned when it comes to keeping the county’s young and vulnerable people safe from harm.”
Any parents, carers and those involved with young people, who have concerns any child could be at risk, should contact police on 101, via Webchat or, in the case of immediate harm, dial 999.