Northampton

Northamptonshire man caught by child sex 'sting'

A former youth worker who was caught trying to groom a 13-year-old girl for sex during a "sting" by news reporters has been jailed for 21 months.

Simon Beard, 56, of Main Street, Little Harrowden, tried to meet the girl after discussions in an internet chatroom, Southwark Crown Court heard.

He admitted three charges relating to the offences in April.

Judge Anthony Leonard QC said Beard had been exposed as someone looking for girls for sexual gratification.

Beard admitted attempting to cause or incite the girl to engage in sexual activity and attempting to cause the girl to watch a sexual act.

He also pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.

Investigators from Five News monitored the activities of several people on a teen chatroom and posed as a 13-year-old girl called Amy, the court heard.

The broadcaster then passed a dossier of evidence, including film footage, to the Metropolitan Police.

'Destroyed life'

Beard, who called himself 'Funman UK' and 'Sim', spent a month grooming Amy online without realising he was speaking to undercover reporters, the investigation revealed.

He exposed himself on webcam and tried to persuade her to perform a sex act before suggesting she meet him to have sex.

Prosecutor Peter Zinner said: "The conversation was recorded by Sky News. It was of a highly sexual nature, it is clear that much of the sexual content was instigated by Mr Beard."

He had tried to get the girl to meet him at Gunnersbury Tube station in west London on 29 April and ran away when he was confronted by reporters.

The court heard he was employed by the National Youth Agency until September last year and specialised in giving advice to young people about healthy sexual development and relationships.

Sam Stein QC, defending Beard, said: "He has quite simply destroyed his own life and work.

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites