‘Over the next few days, can I give you some advice about life?’
These are the chilling words of Richard Baker, 50, who believed he was speaking to a 14-year-old girl on a messaging app.
His messages, sent in January this year, show how he tried to win her trust by portraying himself as a parental figure, giving her ‘advice’ about how to stay safe around men and sending her selfies and photos of his dogs.
This ‘advice’ soon became a stream of pornographic images he found online and plans to meet up for sex.
Thankfully, the girl was not real – and now Baker is behind bars for several sexual offences.
Baker, of Smythe Road, Southampton, was sentenced to a total of eight years in prison at Portsmouth Crown Court today (April 8).
This comes after he pleaded guilty on 14 February to arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence and attempting to cause a child to watch an image of sexual activity in relation to the messages he sent on his phone.
On the same day, he also pleaded guilty to four counts of indecent assault against a girl aged 13 to 15 years old which took place when he was in his early twenties.
The court heard how Baker was also given a restraining order against two teenage girls in December.
Baker sent these between Tuesday, January 4 and Tuesday, January 18, to who he believed was a 14-year-old girl.
The messages quickly escalated into sending her explicit pornography and expressing a desire to hug her - telling her it was up to her if it was an ‘undressed hug’.
They agreed to meet in Fareham on Tuesday, January 18. He also told her not to tell anyone his name or age as he would ‘get in a lot of trouble’.
Thankfully, the girl was not real. When he arrived at the location, he was arrested with a camcorder in his possession.
In a prepared statement given at the time, Baker said he was ‘was trying to explain and warn the girl about how boys can be’.
But he later confessed to sending the messages and trying to meet up with a child for sex.
In addition to his prison sentence, Baker will be put on the sex offenders register for life.
He will also be subject to an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order with conditions such as not having any unsupervised contact with children under 18 and not being allowed within 5 metres of school grounds. If he breaches this order, he will be arrested and sent back to prison.
Officers from Hampshire Constabulary investigated the case with support from the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU).
DS Heather Hudson from Hampshire Constabulary, lead officer in the case, said: “By taking Baker off the streets, we have removed a dangerous predator from our community.
“With young people having ready access to the internet and mobile phones, it is more important than ever that parents stay vigilant and educate their children about how to keep safe online.
“These messages show the tactics a sexual predator will use to win a child’s trust – from presenting themselves as a role model to using pets to impress them.
“I hope this sentence demonstrates the lengths we go to in order to keep children safe from sexual exploitation and abuse, and also might encourage any survivors of child sexual abuse to speak to us.
“It does not matter when it took place, or how old you are – you will be heard, you will be taken seriously and you will be supported in whatever decisions you wish to make.”
Detective Inspector James Oxley, from SEROCU, said: “This case demonstrates our commitment to protect children from sexual exploitation from those who seek to do them harm. Following a thorough investigation, Baker has been convicted of these very serious offences.
“If you or someone you know has been a victim of child sexual abuse, I would urge you to report it to your local police force.”
Survivors of child sexual abuse can call us on 101, where you can speak to our specialist detectives in complete confidence.
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation is the only UK wide charity dedicated solely to preventing child sexual abuse. For anonymous support and advice, use the Stop It Now! helpline on 0808 1000 900 or visit https://www.stopitnow.org.uk/helpline/ to find out more.