Former RAF serviceman from Leeds sent sex messages to undercover police officer posing as a 13-year-old girl
A former RAF serviceman was arrested after he sent explicit sexual messages online to what he believed to be a 13-year-old girl.
Richard Tomlinson was in fact engaging in online conversation with an undercover police officer posing as a schoolgirl.
Leeds Crown Court heard the 47-year-old defendant made contact with the 'teenager' in an internet chat room on November 26, 2018.
Deborah Smithies, prosecuting, said Tomlinson made contact with the profile and introduced himself as a 44-year-old man from Leeds.
He then received a reply stating that it was a 13-year-old girl from Wales.
Tomlinson continued sending messages to the profile and the conversation became sexual.
The defendant was sent a mobile number which he contacted and engaged in a sexual conversation for around two minutes.
He then made contact two days later and discussed meeting the youngster and having sex with her.
Tomlinson also offered to take her to a hotel.
A further phone call was made in which he discussed sex.
On November 30 he sent messages offering to travel to Llandudno and take her to a hotel so they could have sex.
On December 4 he made further contact and asked to be sent a picture of the girl.
Tomlinson was then arrested and claimed in interview that he thought he was sending messages to a girl aged 16 or over.
He pleaded guilty to attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and two counts of attempting to incite a girl under 16 to engage in sexual activity.
Kara Frith, mitigating, said Tomlinson's offending took place over a few days and he had not offended before or since.
Ms Frith said Tomlinson's electronic devices were seized and examined but did not contain any illegal images.
The court heard Tomlinson's relationship with his long-term partner had ended as a result of the convictions.
Ms Frith added: "The enormity of what he has done has weighed heavily upon him."
Tomlinson was given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years.
He was ordered to take part in a 43-day sex offender programme and to complete 55 rehabilitation activity requirement days.
Recorder Richard Wright QC said he was imposing the suspended sentence partly because of the three-year delay in the case coming before the court.
He said: "I must conclude it is either the indolence or incapacity of the police or the Crown Prosecution Service that has led to such an appalling delay in this case."
Recorder Wright told Tomlinson: "As of November 2018, you were a 44-year-old man of previous good character and had served in Her Majesty's Armed Forces for many years.
"You were in full time employment in a settled and stable personal relationship.
"You behaved in an episode of behavior that I am satisfied was entirely out of character by you.
"You engaged in serious sexually-motivated offending towards what you believed was a 13-year-old girl."