A pervert who tried to meet up with a parent to abuse his two daughters was caught after it turned out to be an undercover police officer.
William Gerald Lenehan, from Preston, was in secret online contact with the officer for two months and used secure email accounts based in Russia so he couldn’t be traced.
The ‘determined and premeditated’ 65-year-old also installed special software on his mobile phone making it ‘difficult or impossible’ to check his browsing history and also had access to the ‘dark web’.
Preston Crown Court heard how police officers in Kent launched an investigation in early 2017 to ‘identify and investigate individuals arranging to meet and facilitate sex offences with children’.
Prosecutor Mercedes Jabbari said Lenehan made contact with the undercover officer in May 2017 and used the email address name ‘Exciting Times’.
Lenehan had email accounts with Russian-based Yandex and Protonmail and Ms Jabbari said they are ‘known not to share information with local enforcement agencies’.
She told the court: “The defendant had earlier informed the undercover officer that he changes his email addresses frequently for security purposes and in fact advised the undercover officer to do the same.”
Four days after making contact with the officer Lenehan told him to first send a picture of a sex act involving his daughter and then they could go on to “trade some heavy stuff”.
Lenehan suggested they set up a group in a chat room application and the defendant used the name ‘Gary’.
Ms Jabbari said between May and July 2017 Lenehan engaged in “explicit conversations concerning the abuse of children” with the officer.
She told the court: “The defendant was not only telling the undercover officer to perform indecent acts with his children but also expressing a description of what acts he too would wish to perform.
“He said he enjoyed their ‘purvy chats’ and even expressed disappointment at the situation saying ‘pity this is all illegal’.
“He also tried to arrange a meeting with the undercover officer so they both could abuse the officers supposed young daughters who were three and six years of age.”
Lenehan sent the officer a number of ‘first generation’ custom made images of children, including one of an eight-year-old girl holding a placard with the date and the defendant’s Kik Messenger username.
Ms Jabbari told the court that it ‘indicated the defendant had obtained them from a source not far removed from the original abuser’.
The images were later traced to a man in Torquay who was arrested and convicted, the court heard.
Officers also used Lenehan’s internet provider address from Kik Messenger to trace him to an address on Devonshire Place in Preston.
The defendant was away working in France but was arrested at Manchester Airport the next day.
A mobile phone was seized containing 61 indecent images and videos of children, including one category A – the most serious – three category B and 57 category C.
Ms Jabbari said the victims were aged between five and 10 and one of the abuse videos lasted more than five minutes.
Attempts had also been made to delete the images on the phone which had been in the defendant’s possession since 2012.
The prosecutor said: “The phone was found to have multiple means of secure communications and means of access to the internet making it difficult or impossible for such communications or browsing to be intercepted or detected.
“There were programmes for the effective permanent deletion of images and software to hide [Virtual Private Network] addresses making it difficult to trace the location of the user.
“There was also software to enable the user to access content on the dark web.”
‘Period of insanity’
Lenehan pleaded guilty to encouraging a man to take and send him indecent images of children, distributing indecent images and possessing indecent images.
Defence barrister Shirlie Duckworth said: “This was for him a period of insanity where he had no insight into the harmful effects of his behaviour.
“If the court is inclined to look at the longer term protection of the public and rehabilitation of this defendant then supervision in the community would allow rehabilitation and longer term protection.”
Ms Duckworth said Lenehan had ‘voluntarily engaged’ with the Lucy Faithful Foundation charity which works to prevent child sexual abuse and had also ‘addressed his misuse of alcohol’.
She told the court that since the offences were committed he had lost his job and contact with his children and had not committed any further offences since being arrested in August 2017.
Judge Beverley Lunt said it was ‘concerted, determined and premeditated behaviour’ and said only a prison sentence could be justified.
She said: “There’s no real explanation from you for such determined and perverted behaviour.
“You say you were bored, abroad, away from partner and your sexual needs were not being met. That doesn’t explain any of what you then did.
“When the officers did come into possession of your phone it was found to have multiple means of secure communication and means of accessing the internet making it difficult or impossible for such communication or browsing to be intercepted or detected.
“What you were doing is making repeated suggestions and attempts to get what you believed to be a father to sexually abuse his two children aged three and six and then to film or photograph what he was doing and send the images directly to you for your sexual gratification.
“I have read the logs and the chats between you and the officer and you made various suggestions of forms of abuse including rapes.
“You even tried to arrange a meeting so you could both abuse the children. There is no question that this was not the only parent you were in contact with.
“Your offending involved a lot of premeditation and planning both before and during your criminal activity.
“You have used two secure email servers based in Russia which are known not to share information with law enforcement agencies.”
Lenehan, now of Gargrave Road, Skipton, was jailed for 31 months and ordered to sign the sex offenders register.
He was also given an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order.