A cricket coach from Oundle who organised tours for junior girls’ team has been jailed for grooming children online.
Gary King, from Creed Road, engaged them in highly sexualised chats and coerced them into performing sex acts but was caught in a covert sting run by West Midlands Police.
King – whose firm organised cricket tours and festivals for junior girls’ teams – adopted fake instant messenger profiles in a bid to instigate explicit conversations with the schoolgirls.
However, one of the girls King was trying to groom was actually a covert police officer working with a team which looks to snare paedophiles who are targeting children online.
The 59-year-old unwittingly instigated explicit exchanges with covert cyber-cops via social media platforms last September and again in March this year.
Officers later moved in to arrest King – who used to coach youth cricket teams in Worcestershire – at Stansted Airport as he tried to board a plane to his Spanish holiday home.
An examination of his laptop revealed 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 from his home was also found to contain indecent images of girls which he’d downloaded from the internet.
In a police interview King admitted the offences but claimed it was “fantasy role play” and that he had no intention of meeting the girls.
He admitted a total of six counts of attempting to incite a child to commit sexual activity, plus another of making indecent images of children.
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.”