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Paedophile thought he was talking to 12-year-old girl online - but it was actually a police officer

Richard Hewitt has a string of serious offences to his name

Paedophile Richard Hewitt(Image: Northumbria Police/PA Wire)

A paedophile sent sexual messages to a 12-year-old girl online, but it was actually a police officer.

Richard Hewitt, from Ellesmere Port, repeatedly wiped his computer’s hard drive to hide his internet history.

The 40-year-old was talking to children as young as nine through Skype and chat rooms trying to get them to send him explicit photos of themselves.

Days later he was snared by vigilante group Dark Justice after travelling to Newcastle to meet what he thought was a 13-year-old girl.

Hewitt is already serving a two-year prison sentence at HMP Northumberland for that offence.

He had another three years and four months added to his term at Chester Crown Court on July 28.

Judge David Hale said: “You have a very bad record for offences of this type.

“You asked these children to do things to themselves for you to look at which you knew to be illegal.”

Chester Crown Court

Hewitt, formerly of Old Chester Road, used Skype to exchange messages with a nine-year-old girl over Skype on January 28, 2016.

Chat history showed she told him her age, but he persisted in asking her what underwear she had on and for her to send him photos.

Hewitt also had a conversation with a 12-year-old through the Chat Avenue website and later Skype across August 4-8.

Nicholas Williams, prosecuting, said it was an undercover police officer posing as the girl.

The paedophile was again aware of her supposed age, but told her he wanted to meet up and ‘be her first’.

The defendant was messaging a 14-year-old victim from the Liverpool area over August 7-8.

During this exchange he said he ‘wished she could come to his address’ and ‘nobody will know’.

Hewitt travelled to Newcastle to meet a 13-year-old girl, which turned out to be a fake profile created by Dark Justice, on August 9.

He was arrested by Northumbria Police and later pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.

After his home was searched officers found an explicit image of a nine-year-old girl and the evidence to charge him with these further offences.

Mr Williams said Hewitt ‘regularly used software to clear the contents of his hard drive’.

The 40-year-old admitted three charges of attempting a child into sexual activity, two concerning a girl under the age of 13 and one regarding a girl aged between 13 and 15.

He had also pleaded guilty to counts of possession of an indecent image of a child and breach of a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO).

Maria Masselis, defending, said her client had been diagnosed with depression and ADHD.

She said: “It is clear he is someone who struggles with everyday life.

“He finds personal relations difficult which perhaps explains why he is seeking out relationships which are utterly inappropriate.

"He feels normal in the online world and sadly uninhibited.”

Hewitt has been subject to a SOPO since 2007 after he was first convicted of possessing indecent images of a child.

The defendant’s criminal past also included a sexual assault on a 15-year-old girl. He had been following his victim before grabbing her and asking her to touch him.

Hewitt’s SOPO, which is meant to stop him contacting any child under the age of 16, was extended indefinitely.

It also bans him from owning or possessing any device which can access the internet, but he can use library computers.

Judge Hale told Hewitt he had ‘brought this on himself’ because of his repeat offending.

The defendant nodded in agreement before he was led away to the cells.

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