A SEX offender who bombarded a 13-year-old boy with suggestive messages after overhearing him tell a friend in the library that he might be gay has been jailed.
Owen Critchley was just six months into a suspended sentence for similar child sex offences when he targeted the youngster.
And when the 25-year-old was called a “dirty paedo” online by the child’s friend, he begged her not to go to the police.
Claire Marlow, prosecuting, told the court the victim and a female friend were in the central library on January 12.
They were chatting in the HeadSpace area, set aside for under 16s, when the boy noticed a man sitting close by smiling at them.
Soon after leaving he received a Facebook message from the defendant asking if he would make him a “friend”.
She said the boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, realised from the picture on his profile the request came from the man in the library and agreed.
Critchley, who told him he got his name through a mutual friend, and the boy then exchanged mobile numbers.
Miss Marlow said although the boy’s Facebook profile said he was 16, he quickly told him the truth by text.
The defendant sent him a topless picture of himself as they communicated by text and online.
He sent one text saying “I know it is wrong to talk to you as you are only 13 and I am 19,” even though he was then aged 24.
The boy sent a message back before the girl intervened after seeing what they had been talking about. “She sent a message ‘dirty paedo.’ He replied ‘Please don’t tell the police,’” Miss Marlow said.
Miss Marlow said he was arrested a few days later and at first denied he had been in contact with the boy but then admitted what he had done.
Critchley, who was living at a hostel in Croft Road, admitted breaching a sexual offences prevention order which banned unsupervised contact with children.
The court heard he was put on a suspended sentence at Salisbury Crown Court after being convicted of two sex offences and two of child grooming.
A jury found him guilty of telling a 14-year-old boy he was 17 in the summer of 2011 after contacting him online. He then engaged in sexual activity with the boy before contacting him on Facebook and other networks.
Greg Gordon, defending, said his client had ended the contact with the child in Swindon and had not intended to have sexual contact with him.
He said he was due to start a sex offender programme a few weeks after his arrest but was struggling to fill his time as he could not find work because of his convictions. At the time he was drinking heavily.
Critchley was jailed for a year, the 18 months suspended sentence was added, he must register as a sex offender for life and the breached order must be continued.