A judge has praised the protective actions of a mother who pretended to be her daughter after her child was contacted on social media by a sexual predator.
Judge Neil Rafferty made the comment when he jailed for twelve months Christopher Joseph Quinn, 57, from Church Way in Maghera, Co Derry.
Quinn pleaded guilty to one charge of sexual communication with a child, guilty to one charge of the attempted sexual communication with a child, guilty to four charges of an adult causing a child under 13 to look at an image of a person engaging in sexual activity, guilty to one charge of attempting to incite another to take an indecent photograph or pseudo photograph of a child and guilty to one charge of attempting to incite the distribution of an indecent photograph or pseudo photograph of a child.
Quinn, who committed the offences between March 24, 2020 and July 4, 2020, was also placed on the Sex Offender’s Register for ten years. Additional licencing conditions, also for ten years, under the Sexual Offences Protection Order, were also imposed.
Under the terms of the SOPO Quinn is banned, unless approved by his designated risk manager, from any access to children under the age of sixteen, unless accidental; banned from entering into any relationship without full disclosure of his criminality; banned from engaging in any activity which gives him access to children; banned from using a mobile phone and banned from possessing any internet enabled device. He must also give the police unrestricted assess to his home following his prison release.
Defence barrister Eoghan Devlin said Quinn, who was “absolutely terrified of going to prison”, had made full admissions at the earliest possible time. He accepted it was not a decoy case and that it was a real child who was involved.
The barrister said Quinn had informed his family who, while not condoning his actions were supportive of him. Mr Devlin said the relevant safeguarding issues had been put in place in relation to Quinn’s children.
Judge Rafferty said the offending was uncovered by the child’s mother when she accessed her daughter’s social media account.
He added: “The mother took over the conversations and then brought them to the attention of the police in West Yorkshire.”
Judge Rafferty said the social media comments posted by Quinn became more and more sexualised and he used his social media profiles of Irish Trucker and Horny Old Goat.
Officers in the West Yorkshire police force tracked the messages to Quinn who after he was arrested told the police he was “disgusted and ashamed” by his actions. He told the police he had committed the offences “due to the lockdown during the pandemic”.
Judge Rafferty told Quinn his “offending clearly justifies a custodial sentence. This was an actual contact made with a child, not a decoy case”.
Addressing the mother of Quinn’s victim who watched and listened to the sentencing hearing on Sightlink, Judge Rafferty said: “I want to take time to acknowledge what you did and how you did it. It is quite clear that your concerns were absolutely well placed and that your thought process was entirely protective of your daughter and that the calm way that you dealt with that situation was probably the best for your daughter and the best in terms of the gathering of evidence for a criminal prosecution.
“The protective measures of a good and loving parent should not be underestimated as our children encounter the internet and social media. I acknowledge what you did and I thank you.”
For all the latest news, visit the Belfast Live homepage here and sign up to our daily newsletter here.