Ex-British Army corporal exposed as sick paedo after ‘grooming 14-year-old boy’

An ex-British Army corporal has been jailed after attempting to groom a teenager in order to have sex with him.

Sick paedophile James Clark, 78, thought "Carl" was a boy, 14, but he had actually been trapped by self-styled paedophile hunters.

This group then confronted Clark at his then address about the highly sexualised messages.

He was arrested and released under investigation by Derbyshire police for the offence.

But he continued to break the law by having devices with which he could log on to the internet, reports DerbyshireLive.

And after being arrested and released under investigation by Derbyshire police for that offence Clark continued to break the law by secretly having devices with which he could log on to the internet.

And his latest sentencing hearing, at Derby Crown Court, heard how the paedophile pensioner has been committing sex offences since 1973.

Jailing him for 32 months, Recorder Martin Butterworth said: “The most serous offence is seeking to be in the company of a 14-year-old boy who you were grooming.

“You tried to arrange a meeting with what you thought was a naive 14 year old with the intention of him having sexual contact with you. The fact is that you are now an old man who, when you are at liberty, find yourself isolated.

“Your family has disowned you and over the years you have found yourself friendless. But you are a 78-year-old man who has a bad record for sex offending and breaching orders.”

Lucky Thandi, prosecuting, said Clark, of Uttoxeter Road, Mickleover, was handed an old sexual offences prevention order when he was jailed for three years for possession of indecent images in 2008.

She said he was jailed again for having 2,500 more indent images in 2013 and was handed an updated sexual arm prevention order.

Miss Thandi said the grooming offence took place on May 6 when the paedophile hunter group turned up at his then address in High Street, Alfreton, having set up “Carl’s” decoy profile account.

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Miss Thandi said after being arrested and answering “no comment” to the questions he was asked by detectives, Clark was released under investigation.

But on three occasions between then and June of this year he was caught with either mobile phones or tablets that he had failed to declare to the police, breaking the terms of his order.

On one of them, when he was living in Railway Terrace, in Derby, a support worker caught him frantically trying to hide a box under an armchair which contained a phone.Clark, who has 18 convictions for 44 offences dating back to 1973, pleaded guilty to attempting to seek the company of a person under the age of 18 and three other breaches of his sexual harm prevention order.

Eight of those 18 convictions are for sexual offences. Andrew Vout, mitigating, said his client committed the offence out of “a background of deep unhappiness and deep loneliness”.

He said: “He spent some time in the army and achieved the rank of corporal.

“At that time he discovered his wife was having an affair with another man and that led to violence and him having to leave the army. From there his family life disintegrated.”

Speaking after sentencing, an NSPCC spokesperson said: “Clark’s disgusting attempts to groom what he thought was a young boy show how easy it can be for a sexual predator to manipulate children online.

“This case should be a reminder of how vital it is for parents and carers to speak to their children about their online lives, and help them understand the risks they face and where they can turn if they are worried about something.

“Children need more protection from dangerous individuals such as Clark. This is why we are pushing the Government hard to publish the Online Harms Bill in the Autumn which will force tech companies to design in safety measures for all the young people who use their platforms.”

Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111. Adults with concerns for a child’s wellbeing can contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 8005000 or email [email protected]

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