A youth cricket coach has been jailed after he was caught in a covert police sting trying to groom an undercover officer.
Gary King, from Oundle, Northamptonshire, groomed girls online in highly sexualised chats and coerced them into performing sex acts.
The 59-year-old, whose firm organised cricket tours for junior girls’ teams, was caught in a covert sting run by West Midlands Police.
He adopted fake instant messenger profiles in an attempt to instigate sexually explicit conversations with the schoolgirls.
However, he tried to groom a covert officer working with a West Midlands Police team that snares paedophiles who target children online.
King used social media platforms to instigate explicit exchanges with the undercover officer in September 2016 and March this year.
King, who used to coach youth cricket teams in Worcestershire, was arrested at Stanstead Airport as he tried to board a plane to his Spanish holiday home.
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Police found his laptop contained evidence of sexual online chats with an unidentified 14-year-old girl from Aylesbury which ran for seven days between the end of April 2017 and the start of May.
A USB stick seized at his home contained indecent images of girls which he’d downloaded from the internet.
In an interview with police, King said he was engaging in ‘fantasy role play’ and had no intention of meeting the girls.
He pleaded guilty to six counts of attempting to incite a child to commit sexual activity with penetration, plus another charge of making indecent images of children.
On November 6, at Birmingham Crown Court, he was jailed for 16 months and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.
Detective Inspector Nicki Addison from West Midlands Police’s specialist Child Sexual Exploitation team, said: ‘King thought he was grooming a girl but in fact it was a covert officer posing as a child to gather evidence against him.
‘He deceived vulnerable girls online. Youngsters can be badly scarred psychologically and emotionally through online exchanges with predators like King even if they have not been physically harmed. And offenders need to accept they are likely to be jailed.
‘We are working to identify cricket team members King has been in contact with or tours he has arranged. We will be following up those enquiries to see if any children have been affected.
‘If any child believes they have been targeted by King – or if any parents suspect their children may have been contacted by him – I’d urge them to call us.’
Anyone with information can call Det Insp Addison at West Midlands Police’s Public Protection Unit on the 101 number.