Man tried to persuade '12-year-old girl' to perform sex acts - The Rugby Observer

Man tried to persuade '12-year-old girl' to perform sex acts

Rugby Editorial 16th Mar, 2020   0

THE ‘LUDICROUS’ defence put forward by a man who tried to persuade a 12-year-old girl to perform sex acts and to meet him has been rejected by a jury.

In fact the schoolgirl who Paul Appleton was trying to persuade to perform sex acts for his gratification was a police officer involved in a covert operation.

Appleton, 47, of Willowford Close, Long Lawford, had denied attempting to incite a child under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity – but has been told to expect a prison sentence.

He claimed he believed he was involved in ‘role-playing’ with an adult – but a jury at Warwick Crown Court found him guilty of the charge by a unanimous verdict.

Prosecutor Stefan Kolodynski told the court that Appleton was a married man, but at the time his wife was away from home, and in October last year ‘he decided to access a social media platform.’

He registered on a sex chat site on which the minimum age one can select when registering is 18, ‘so we can take from that that this is an adult platform site,’ said Mr Kolodynski.

Using the name PaulUK47, Appleton began a conversation on the afternoon of October 3 with someone called Maya18.

“What he did not know was that in fact there was a police operation, Project Atari, where specially-trained officers accessed such sites in order to smoke out people with sexual interests in children.

“In fact Maya18 was a specialist officer who goes by the pseudonym TobyToby.

“No doubt it will be urged on you that by chatting to someone called Maya18 that he believed that person was 18,” Mr Kolodynski told the jury.

“But if anyone reads the transcript of the chat, it soon turns out that he knew he was talking to a young girl aged 12.”

In one chat session it was perfectly clear what Appleton wanted to do, because within the first few seconds he turned the chat to sexual matters.

The reply was that Maya was ‘only nearly 13,’ and Mr Kolodynski commented: “Members of the jury, if you were on a chat platform like this and you saw that message, it would set alarm bells ringing – but not to Mr Appleton. He clearly tries to discover where she is and if she’s alone.”

And as soon as he establishes she is alone, ‘he returns to matters sexual,’ telling her she can ‘have some fun’.

Believing he was talking to a 12-year-old girl, he tried to persuade her to take off her clothes and perform a sex act, and sent her an explicit picture of himself.

In a further chat he suggested she could come to Rugby, and they discussed where they could meet, with him suggesting the station before settling on the entrance to Asda.

The covert police officer then traced Appleton to his home where he was arrested on November 7.

When he was interviewed, Appleton’s solicitor made it clear he wished to exercise his right to silence, ‘and literally he remained silent for the duration of a 57-minute interview,’ said Mr Kolodynski.

In court Appleton said he believed he was communicating with an adult woman, and that the references to her being 12 were just part of a role-playing fantasy initiated by her.

After the jury rejected his story and found him guilty, the case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on him, and he was granted bail.

But Judge Anthony Potter warned Appleton that he was facing a custodial sentence, and told him: “You ran a ludicrous defence in the face of overwhelming evidence.”

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