A former military man from Fleetwood has been jailed for nearly two years for soliciting sex with under-age ‘girls’ and “prowling” the internet for chats with children.
Mark Crompton, 46, of Lord Street in the town, was caught out after indulging in ‘depraved, cocaine-fuelled chats’ with what he thought to be a like-minded individual who had a ten-year-old daughter, York Crown Court heard.
In fact, the ‘father’ was an undercover police officer patrolling the internet for perverts and he reeled Crompton in by posing as a dad with an unhealthy interest in children.
Prosecutor Paul Abrahams said Crompton joined the ‘Kids Chat’ website with the username ‘School Teacher’ and sent a message to the undercover cop. They then moved onto the secure KIK app to continue their debauched conversations where Compton used his real name.
Mark Crompton, 46, of Lord Street, Fleetwood has been jailed
“In that chat, the defendant requested images including those of sexual acts (by the ‘daughter’),” added Mr Abrahams.
Crompton – who was living in Ripon, North Yorkshire, at the time – also asked the ‘father’ if he could meet his ‘daughter’ in Cambridgeshire, where the officer told him they lived.
“(Crompton) talked about the sexual abuse of children and sent pictures of a child in a skirt to the undercover officer,” said Mr Abrahams.
Acting on evidence gathered by the decoy, police swooped on Crompton’s home in Ripon in August 2019.
Crompton told them: “It’s all other people as well – they have been sending me pictures. I didn’t know it was a crime.”
He told police he had lost his job and had been sleeping in a van, and that he had been “talking online because I have no-one else to talk to”.
Officers seized electronic devices from Crompton’s home including a mobile phone on which police found 21 different chat logs with “numerous users” including those identifying as children, two of whom lived in the UK.
One of those was a 13-year-old girl but Mr Abrahams said the Crown couldn’t prove that she was a real child.
The chats with this ‘girl’ occurred during a one-week period between June and July 2019, when Crompton asked to meet her after photos were exchanged and “talked about going away with her to Spain and having children with her”.
He told the ‘girl’ she was making him “horny” and said he wanted to have sex with her and “take her virginity”.
Mr Abrahams said Crompton’s sordid plans involved “potentially raping her” as a girl of her age could not give consent in the eyes of the law, although there was no evidence to suggest he intended to meet her.
Crompton had talked about having sex with the girl in his van with a “uniform on”, but the girl told him she “wouldn’t consent to that”.
Police also found 35 indecent images of children on Crompton’s phone, as well as nine prohibited photos of minors.
He had installed encrypted software on his mobile to download vile images of children between three and eight years of age.
He was arrested and hauled in for questioning but told officers he never intended to meet any of the ‘children’ and put his odious behaviour down to “cocaine use”.
He was charged with two counts of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, two counts of making indecent images and one count of possessing prohibited images of minors. He admitted all charges and appeared for sentence on Friday.
Mr Abrahams said that Crompton had been involved in a network of online paedophiles who sent him pictures from chatrooms. He had three previous convictions for “unrelated matters”.
Defence barrister Joseph Hudson said Crompton had led a “decent life (and had) a good job until middle age” when “problems emerged”.
He added that Crompton, who was a full-time carer for his partner, had since been seeing a psychiatrist.
Judge Sean Morris, the Recorder of York, told Crompton: “You were skulking around the internet looking for communications with teenage girls (and wanting) to talk about sex.”
He said that although no actual arrangements were made to take one of the girls to Spain, Crompton thought “that person was real, and it was vivid sexual chat”.
He said although Crompton had led an otherwise “good and industrious life” and served his country in the army in his younger years, “you have brought complete shame (upon yourself) and you are responsible for your own downfall”.
“Everything has come crashing down and as a result of your behaviour you ended up in a psychiatric hospital for a short period…and I dare say it was the drink and possibly the drugs that loosened your inhibitions (on the internet),” added the judge.
Crompton will serve half of the 23-month jail sentence behind bars before being released on prison licence. He was also placed on the sex-offenders’ register for ten years and made subject to a six-year sexual-harm prevention order designed primarily to curb his internet activities.