Elderly sex offender was caught attempting to meet child in Leamington

File photo dated 16/4/2008 of the famous statue of "Lady Justice" by the British sculptor, Frederick William Pomeroy, which stands on the dome of the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey. Children giving evidence in court in sexual abuse cases need to be given more support, with many suffering from stress ahead of a trial, the NSPCC has said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday October 5, 2013. The children's charity warned some cases are collapsing because not enough is done to help vulnerable witnesses, the BBC reported. See PA story CRIME Children. Photo credit should read: Ian Nicholson/PA Wire SUS-170112-120259001
File photo dated 16/4/2008 of the famous statue of "Lady Justice" by the British sculptor, Frederick William Pomeroy, which stands on the dome of the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey. Children giving evidence in court in sexual abuse cases need to be given more support, with many suffering from stress ahead of a trial, the NSPCC has said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday October 5, 2013. The children's charity warned some cases are collapsing because not enough is done to help vulnerable witnesses, the BBC reported. See PA story CRIME Children. Photo credit should read: Ian Nicholson/PA Wire SUS-170112-120259001

A south Warwickshire man who was already on the sex offenders’ register for indecent assaults on a young girl offered to pay a 14-year-old schoolgirl to meet him for sex.

In fact the girl did not exist – and when Anthony Johnson turned up at Leamington railway station to meet her and a friend, he was arrested.

Despite that, he originally denied offences of attempting to meet a child intending to commit a sexual offence following grooming and breaching a sexual offences prevention order.

But on the day he was due to stand trial at Warwick Crown Court, Johnson, 72, of Verney Close, Lighthorne, changed his pleas to guilty.

Prosecutor Mark Williams said that Johnson had been made the subject of a sexual offences prevention order in 2010 as a result of a conviction for sexual offences in 2003.

Under the order, which was to last for ten years, he was prohibited from communicating or attempting to communicate with any child under the age of 16.

But on July 7 he began exchanging online messages through a chat site with someone he believed was called Tanya who lived in Camden, London, and had a 14-year-old friend called Jackie.

In fact it was an adult posing as Tanya who then sent the police screenshots of their exchanges, said Mr Williams.

“The content is highly sexual, and it is apparent he was intending to meet Tanya and Jackie for sexual activity the following day.

“In the course of the messages with Tanya he offered to pay them £40 each for an afternoon of sexual activity, including full intercourse.

“They were to get the train and he was to meet them at the train station, and he asked Tanya if she had enough money for the train.”

During the chat, which went on into the early hours of the following morning, Tanya said she was a virgin but that Jackie, who it was made plain was only 14, was not.

Johnson sent an image of his private parts and tried to get her to send him an intimate image of Jackie, but was told he would have to contact her directly.

It was arranged that the girls would arrive at Leamington station on the 11.24 train.

“In fact Tanya and Jackie do not exist, and the person [posing as them] provided the police with information. The police went to Leamington station and saw him at the station and told him what he was under arrest for.”

When he was interviewed Johnson, who had £91 in cash on him, answered ‘no comment’ to the majority of questions.

Mr Williams added that Johnson had convictions for dishonesty in the 1960s and 70s, but in 2003 he was jailed for five years for offences of indecent assault, including oral sex and digital penetration, on a girl under the age of 14.

It had been anticipated that Johnson, who had been remanded in custody, would be sentenced straight away.

But after hearing the case, Recorder Anupama Thompson said: “There is no alternative to immediate custody, but his previous conviction concerns me.”

So she adjourned the case for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on Johnson, to consider whether he poses an on-going danger to young girls, and he was again remanded in custody.