A former Coronation Street director has claimed he thought he was involved in role-play with an adult pretending to be a girl when he talked online with an undercover police officer posing as a 13-year-old girl.
Prosecutors allege that Tim Dowd thought he was talking to an under-aged girl called Chantelle when he asked intimate questions about “phone sex” and requested images of her breasts.
But the 66-year-old, who also worked on episodes of Emmerdale and Heartbeat during his 30-year career, told the jury at Leeds Crown Court that he never believed “for a second” that the user in the chatroom was 13-years-old.
Dowd said he believed he was taking part in a role play involving an adult woman pretending to be a teenager for her own sexual gratification.
The court heard that Dowd, of Chatsworth Grove, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, had contacted a user named Chantelle13Cymru on a chat site called Lycos on January 12 last year.
The jury heard that he immediately asked the person to clarify their age, before remarking that them being 13 was “not a problem”.
Giving evidence on Wednesday, Dowd said when he starting talking to “Chantelle”, he believed it was an adult woman looking to enjoy “younger girl-older man role-play”.
Asked what he had thought when he saw “13” in the undercover officer’s username, he said: “I believed that this was an adult who wanted to pretend to be 13.
“I was not really concerned what it was about, what I was concerned about was whether they had a sexual fantasy that I could engage with, regardless of whether I was interested in it or not.”
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He said the user’s refusal to send him pictures served as “confirmation” that he was talking with an adult and said he would have left the chat immediately if he had been sent an image of a child.
Asked why he had started using the site the father-of-two, who was married when he signed up nearly five years ago, said he felt lonely in his marriage and had gone on the site to find adult women who were interested in sharing erotic conversations.
Dowd told the court he does not have a sexual interest in children, adding that he has never had any complaints about his conduct during his time as a freelance director, and telling jurors: “I have worked with hundreds of children during my career, and have guided them to be great actors.”
Rupert Doswell, prosecuting, said Dowd’s conversations with “Chantelle” ended abruptly on January 15 last year – four days before he was arrested at a property in East Keswick, Leeds, at which point he said he lost his job.
Dowd denies three counts of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, and a count of attempting to engage in sexual conversations with a child for the purpose of sexual gratification.