Cambridgeshire

Child sex 'predator' from Cambridgeshire facing life in US jail

Palm Springs city sign, California Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Paul Charles Wilkins was arrested after paying an undercover officer to arrange for him to have sex with a boy, 9, in Palm Springs, California

A convicted child sex offender could be facing the rest of his life in jail after he was caught trying to pay US undercover officers for sex with a boy.

Paul Charles Wilkins, of Littleport in Cambridgeshire, travelled to California in January to "engage in illicit sexual conduct" with boys aged 10 and 12, US officials claim.

US Attorney Eileen M. Decker described the 70-year-old as a predator.

Wilkins was jailed in the UK in 2011 for child pornography offences.

He pleaded guilty to 16 charges and was jailed for 56 months at Cambridge Crown Court, the Crown Prosecution Service for East of England said.

'Must be accountable'

In January, Wilkins arrived in the Coachella Valley in southern California with the intention of having sex with pre-teen boys, according to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials.

The Cambridgeshire man, who holds dual UK and US citizenship, was arrested on 11 February at a rented apartment in Palm Springs after allegedly paying an undercover Homelands Security Investigations (HSI) officer $250 (£170) to have sex with a nine-year-old boy.

He was charged with travelling with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with boys and attempted sex trafficking.

Ms Decker, chief federal law enforcement officer in the Central District of California, said: "When this defendant's original plan was thwarted, he made other arrangements to sexually abuse a child.

"He must be held accountable for these crimes."

Wilkins has been detained in custody in the US since his arrest, but two further charges of transporting and possessing child pornography were added to the indictment on 17 June.

The images were found on a laptop computer and storage device seized when he was arrested in Palm Springs, an ICE official said.

Wilkins was detained as part of HSI's Operation Predator, an international initiative to protect children from sexual predators.

He is expected to face trial in the US on 19 July.


The charges:

  • Travelling with the intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct carries a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years
  • Attempted sex trafficking of children carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum penalty of life without parole
  • The two child pornography charges each carry a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years
  • The transportation count carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison

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