A Cambridge head teacher sending sexual messages to who he thought was a teenage boy caught by private investigator

| Author: Tony Imossi (Secretariat) | Filed under: General News
A Cambridge head teacher sending sexual messages to who he thought was a teenage boy caught by private investigator

A Cambridge head teacher who sent sexual messages to a private investigator posing as a teenage boy on Grindr and then tried to meet him has been jailed.

Glyn Knowles was acting head of Cambridge International School and child protection officer for a Hertfordshire archery club when he was arrested on July 14 in Bishop's Stortford.

St Albans Crown Court heard today (August 18) the 50-year-old thought he was meeting a 15-year-old boy he had engaged in a conversation about oral sex and asked to see his penis.

But after police were tipped off about the sting operation he was arrested and last month pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a boy under 16 following grooming.

Today (Friday, August 18) Judge Andrew Bright QC sentenced Knowles, of High Street, Puckeridge, to one year imprisonment.

Amanda Haynes, prosecuting, said: "He responded to a profile that was placed on (gay dating website) Grindr by an investigative journalist posing as a 15-year-old."

The investigator for Child Sexual Exploitation Investigators (CSE) had taken a stock image of a teenage boy and modified the nose and ears. The username was 'Young Now' and later became 'Bored'.

Their conversation began on June 30 when Knowles sent the message 'Hey, nice pic, very sexy, what are you looking for?'

The 'boy' said his name was Hayden. Knowles said he was called Dave but used an image of himself and did not lie about his age.

'Hayden' said he was 15 and lived with his mum. He asked Knowles if that was okay and he replied: "Yes, if that is okay with you" and the teacher later sent a picture revealing his penis.

This preceded a conversation discussing oral sex.

"I am just nervous about meeting a guy so young"

Knowles, at times, appeared to express concerns and wrote: "I am just nervous about meeting a guy so young," adding "I said I was a bit too old for you," and "How come you are not in school?"

But they still arranged to meet in Bishop's Stortford and police intercepted him at The Causeway.

Ms Haynes continued: "Police made their way to the scene. They got there about 2.35pm.

"He was asked what he was doing. He said he was going to the airport.

"At this stage he began to panic and was fearful."

But Knowles later changed his line to say he had met someone on Grindr but did not know how young he was.

After his arrest, police studied Mr Knowles' computer and found 'teen' was a search term, although the defendant said he was interested in those aged 18 and 19.

He also said he wanted give 'Hayden' advice on how to safely use the internet. This was not believed by the judge.

At one point Knowles, who also worked at a Hertfordshire dive school, attempted to block the conversation but it appears the pair started chatting again.

Chris Whitehouse, mitigating on behalf of Knowles, said his client had shown "genuine remorse," had already suffered "humiliation and shame", and was "petrified," of custody.

Knowles wore a black suit, pale shirt and dark tie. He nervously pressed his hands into his face during proceedings.

Judge Andrew Bright decided the category two offence was worthy of greater punishment than the suspended sentence sought by Mr Whitehouse.

Addressing Knowles, Judge Bright said: "You are a man of 50 years of age, not just of good character but as the deputy head teacher of a school you would have been seen as a man of the establishment until very recently.

"This offence is extremely serious. This was a sting operation by a journalist who wanted to bring to justice paedophiles who use the internet.

"What you were doing was taking your reputation in your hands.

"It is difficult to imagine anything more horrendous, that a man in your position (would act like this).

"I have read the chat and it is plain to me you did speak to him with sex in mind."

Horrors of publicity

Taking into account his early guilty plea and exposure to the "horrors of publicity," the judge imposed a 12 month prison sentence to start immediately.

Half will be served in custody and half will be on license.

The judge added: "This shows anyone who commits these kind of offences can expect immediate custodial sentences.

"This court has a duty to protect children from the likes of you."

Knowles was the 'Designated Safeguarding Lead and Prevent Strategy Lead' at Cambridge International School, which has campuses in Cherry Hinton, Abington and in Bateman Street, Cambridge.

Nick Rugg, of the International School Partnership, wrote to parents after his guilty plea to inform them Knowles had been fired.

An NSPCC spokesperson for the East of England said: “Knowles knew full well that his depraved actions were wrong yet he still went out with the intention of meeting a child he groomed online.

“It is equally more astonishing that he was the designated child protection officer and head teacher at the school he worked at – the very person children should turn to if they need help.

“This kind of predatory abuse displayed by Knowles can ruin childhoods and have devastating effects which can last into adulthood.

“It is important that parents speak to their children about the risks they could face online so they know how to stay safe.”

Source: Cambridge News

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