A paedophile who tried to persuade a “like-minded couple” to meet him so he could abuse their two young daughters was caught out after the couple turned out to be undercover Cambridgeshire police officers.
Ian McNeill, 77, from Whittlesey, Peterborough, began messaging who he believed were a couple with similar views to him called ‘Claire’ and ‘Ryan’.
The online interaction between them began on 20th June 2019 and ended just over a month later, on 31st July 2020.
In the messages which were exchanged with the undercover officers, he asked ‘Claire and Ryan’ about their two young girls aged three and six.
Unbeknown to the sexual predator, ‘Claire and Ryan’ were specially trained officers who were running an operation into child sexual exploitation (CSE),
McNeill told the couple he liked “any age that’s willing” and planned to meet them on 6th August 2019 to abuse their children sexually.
However, the week before the planned meet up, McNeill messaged to say he had fainted at the wheel and was unable to drive for a while.
He also stopped any further contact from this point, but detailed police enquiries were able to identify McNeill.
In a police interview, he accepted he was the person in the chat but said it was all made up and fantasy.
He told officers he was just naively curious as to where the discussions about the children would lead to and added that he would never have travelled to meet them.
McNeill claimed this was why he made up the scenario of fainting at the wheel, as he needed a way to get out of it.
He was later summonsed to court for two counts of attempting to arrange or facilitate the commission of a child sex offence.
McNeill admitted the charges at Peterborough Crown Court on 26 October.
He was sentenced at the same court yesterday (8 December), where he was handed two years in prison, suspended for 18 months.
McNeill was also placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for ten years and made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) for the same time period.
DC Gareth Purdy, who investigated, said:
“McNeill’s behaviour was completely inappropriate and shocking. Using the internet in this way will not be tolerated, and thankfully he was stopped and arrested as a result of an undercover operation.
“The SHPO will allow us to manage and monitor McNeill’s online behaviour over the next decade, thereby reducing the risk of harm to the public.
“Protecting young people from harm is one of our top priorities and we will continue to work tirelessly to keep our communities safe.”
Anyone who is concerned someone may have been convicted of a sex offence, and could be posing a risk to someone, can apply for disclosure information through Sarah’s Law.
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