England

Paedophile offered Amazon vouchers to meet baby

Darren unt Image copyright Facebook
Image caption The National Crime Agency swooped on Darren Hunt before any meeting took place, the court heard

A senior fire safety officer who offered a paedophile Amazon vouchers in exchange for access to a one-year-old has been jailed.

Darren Hunt, 50, who worked for Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service, discussed the meeting online with Henry Ogden, from Cumbria.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) began investigating after it was tipped off by Twitter, Stafford Crown Court heard.

Hunt admitted sexual offences against children and was jailed for 22 months.

Ogden, 29, from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, was sentenced alongside Hunt on Monday and received 31 months after admitting five charges of publishing obscene material.

'Horrifying' case

The court heard Hunt, described as a "respectable" family man and a long-serving, high-ranking officer with the fire service, began communicating with Ogden in March last year.

During their conversations over a three-month period, he asked Ogden, described in court as a "paedophile offender", for access to a toddler.

Ogden, a father of a young child, said he could not arrange that but offered a meeting with a one-year-old baby instead.

Hunt, of Blair Close, Worcester, asked if the mother would be present and if Amazon vouchers were a suitable way of paying Ogden, the court heard.

Officials from the NCA then stepped in and also alerted West Mercia Police.

They found more than 60 images of abused children on Hunt's phone and computer - the youngest was three months old - and both men were charged in June, the court was told.

Hunt pleaded guilty to three charges of making or possessing indecent images of children and charge of arranging, facilitating and commissioning a child sexual offence.

'Truly appalling'

The case was described as "horrifying" by judge Michael Chambers QC.

"If there's ever a case which is truly appalling, this is it," he told Hunt.

"These are real children being exploited by evil men and it's only by paedophiles like yourselves, looking at these images, that it occurs".

He said Hunt's action were "shocking" and "truly appalling", and said the public would "rightly be concerned" about his attraction to children.

Lawyers defending Hunt, who has been married for 28 years, said he had no intention of meeting the baby, and said he was "embarrassed" and "ashamed" about what he did.

In a statement, the fire service said Hunt was suspended immediately when it was made aware of the allegations last year and his employment terminated in September, after he pleaded guilty.

Hunt had no contact with children in his former role, the spokesman added.

A business Hunt operated was also forced to close since the offences came to light, the court was told.

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