No one could say Peter was the prettiest lad on the block – nor had the most charismatic personality - but he was o.k. And after growing up in the South of England he went to Liverpool University where he read one of those modern courses –0h - social sciences would it be? I’ve never understood why that’s called Social Sciences – it should be surely, surely social arts. Anyway while he was at Uni Peter discovered/learnt two things about himself – 1. that he believed in the labour party.
And 2. he fancied sexually pretty young men – and while at Uni he fell in love with a fellow student and they settled down together in a flat in Aigburth which is a posh dormitory suburb on the eastern side of the city – i.e. access to Manchester and all of that M6/M1 - Northern/ Central England.
Peter’s Labour Party connection did very, very well – after some seasons of voluntary helping the party he secured a “permanent” paid position as the constituency PA to a major M.P. – this was after he left ( with a degree) Uni – and a member of the regional organising team. Indeed when he came to court – everyone: his defence, the prosecution and the judge all said he was a high flier – who had now “fallen”.
How it happened is interesting – which is why we’re writing up this case as it is a very modern tale. Peter and his live in lover split – with Peter staying on in his Aigburth flat and the boyfriend moving out. Peter was not street wise/ pub wise/ club wise – but modern. He was v. much so so very computer literate
His boyfriend gone – on his own at his computer he tapped in sex/ porn/ lads/ etc. This was at a time of the last general election – so Peter was very busy. His boyfriend had left him and he came home after driving his rather smart car to the flat and alone he’d punch up his keyboard– well people do for an hour or so, before he crashed out and fell asleep alone and the next day it’d just be work / work. With a lot of driving involved – servicing marginal constituencies across Lancashire.
As I’ve written, Peter was v. computer literate and I am not. It’s taken me ten years to understand the principle of these computer/ internet services. It took the judge at the trial a long time for her to understand it. And Peter – bless him – for all his computer literacy didn’t get the principle – or if he did he was unbelievably naive/ stroke desperate.
The principle is there is an area that is free and browsable – but then there is an area you pay for and get more kit/ or in this case kit off.
In that area the service provider has your details and you are traceable – by the police.
So Peter browsed one of these gay date sites – which have photos on. Small smudgy things and then you subscribe for more personal details about the chap – and yourself. On the site, as tired Peter saw, was this drop dead gorgeous young man. Wow – and Peter in his late night loneliness/ out of curiosity / frustration – subscribed and lo, lo the lad responded. Lad puts up he was 18. Peter is 25. Or was – he’ll be 27 before he regains some sort of freedom again.
Have you got it – lad posted he was 18. How does / would anyone know. Indeed the judge, she took a long time over this area when the computer service provider was flown in to Bolton Crown to do his evidence.
Within the Saga, as it is/ was unfolding, time is now moving very quickly. The lad sends texts/ - logs on – e-mails he fancies Peter. He is very pretty and wants sex – “normal” gay love/ hugging/ friendship sex. They have compatible interests in music / telly programmes/ videos. The lad now reveals he isn’t 18 but 17 and attends college – although he lives at home with his parents. A few days pass and the lad then posts to “say” his father is being aggressive to him because lad has come out and told his Mum and Dad he’s gay. A few hours – aye hours only hours pass and the lad messages Peter that he’s desperate – can Peter put him up until his Dad calms down?
Peter is torn – he’s not that stupid. Peter is not stupid at all. Peter – he cools the situation - but he fancies lad and he is intrigued and is alone – boyfriend bereft. They had been exchanging messages between each other of slush on an almost hourly basis saying how much they fancied each other and longed to be together etc. But Peter was busy with his bloody Labour Party - anyway – a general election approaches with scores of folks to energise, and organise and miles of driving. Unbeknown to Peter – the lad was quite busy at school. He was not 18..
Another day or two pass with messages between them and then the lad messages Peter – he must be picked up Friday – he can’t face a weekend at home with his abusive homophobic Dad
Peter wasn’t daft – but he was also becoming increasingly tired with work. The first time it came so blunt – “put me up: I love you” he turned down the lad’s request for help – and comfort, texted that he was busy working late as he was. Messages were flying the next few days faster and faster and towards the end of the very next week the “performance” began again with an increased urgency. It so happened that Friday evening of the second frenzied weekend Peter would be driving by from Rossendale back to Liverpool quite close to the lad’s rendezvous. Alright said /texted Peter –
And at dusk time Peter drove to point rendezvous at said college gates and the lad was there in his hoodie but a beautiful young body and got in Peter’s smart fast motor with his shoulder bag PDQ. Peter drove back to Liverpool carefully. During the trial both parties admitted not much was spoken during this drive – just some mutual music played on the car’s sound system. But it was rush hour – and it was dusk – night by now.
There must have been a moment when Peter realised now this lad whose photo he’d so fantasised off on was not the desirable 18/ 17 but more like 13 – I think it was when they got back to the Aigburth flat – but during the final part of the trial one of the jurors spoke with me in the street at dinner break and said he thought it was the instant the lad got into Peter’s car Peter realised he was nobbut a lad – a child. But what could he now do.
Peter was a Labour Party man
It happened to me once – in 1980 I’d met/ been introduced to this very very pretty bodied lad in the shadows of the streets of town one evening after work. I was dog tired. I’d be 40 then and the lad only an 18 year old looker and enthusiastic apparently and just drop dead gorgeous to look at. I had a golden rule – even then – don’t go off at night / don’t go off that moment /don’t go off that day but arrange for a following day. Lad fixed a rendezvous next day at noon and in some suburban location – by a cinema – shows how long ago it was, my experience . He had a cap on and sexy clothes but I was a bit “worried” as to his age then – when we next day met, by the cinema. However we went back to this flat and straight away he took off everything and bollock naked on the bed he was and I knew then – he was not 18 17 16 – God knows what he was – no way could I get a hard on at all. I made some decent “feeling ill” excuse and left. Caught bus back. But the lad/ clearly the lad obviously wanted s e x.
I could not even raise a hard on.
And so with Peter it would have been dusk when he picked lad up in his fast smart motor.
Either in the car or at the flat in the light he realised what had happened. The jury all agreed whatever happened no sex had taken place. And next morning Peter drove the lad back to his district, near the home of lad’s parents and his family home early next morning – intact – not even shared the same bed was the jury’s verdict. The evening had passed in acute embarrassment for Peter – well for both of them - after watching a few videos – not sex videos – and some sort of maybe cuddle - the lad was put to bed in the big double bed and Peter slept on the sofa in the lounge. As much as he might have been able to sleep.
But there were at the trial these other charges laid – grooming – and abduction. Of a minor. .
Abduction the judge ruled had to be guilty. Peter had taken a child from its parents without their permission or knowledge .but the sex/ the grooming for sexual intent was for the jury to decide and the jury decided after much deliberation – yes: there had been grooming with the intention of sex. Grooming is complex –
What swung was this .
You see the lad had been cautious too – he’d told his best mate at school he had this internet fellow he was going to go off with he hoped. The lad had hinted at as much to his parents who had grounded him – but on that Friday night they gave their son permission to sleep over at his mate’s/ mate’s parent’s house. When the parents phoned each other at 9 pm or so they found their lad not there. It had all been a ruse – and their son had indeed slipped the controls and bunked off probably to be with this “man” he’d met on the net. Parents searched their lad’s bedroom and indeed found indeed that’s what he had done and left Mum and Dad an explicit note to say he’d gone to see his intended lover. Well – parents well went – can you imagine – and rang the 999. Police arrived and oh, anyone who thinks the police are plods had better think again. They knew just what to do and took away the family computer – which the lad had been using and found quite quickly everything there. Almost everything. But no address – when the lad returned to his home Saturday morning, phew, police ASAP got the lad to retrace his journey and find Peter’s flat. Of course they had took the lad’s mobile phone and kept him in custody. They were in touch in another part of the country with the gay dating service provider and had seized their records – and ram raided Peter’s front door. Took away Peter’s kit – bedsheets and the computer away. This was / is how it is in modern days.
When Peter came back from work that Saturday evening of course they nabbed Peter. But it was what they discovered on the computer that nailed a guilty conviction with the minds of the jury and in the fullness of time put Poor Peter in prison for intent to groom a child for sexual purposes.
What police computer forensics had found was a pattern – Peter would be coming home from work and in some sort of varied order there would be a response to the texts/ e-mails that had come from the lad. FROM the lad – doesn’t matter, FROM - that is still a crime. Police computer forensics had not been able to collect/ retrieve ALL the text messages – but enough. And at the same time (timings all logged) poor Peter was looking on in his date site at images of the lad and enlarging them. And then – he’d watch a teen sex porno movie - presumably to have a wank. Though have a wank was never actually explicitly spelt out during the trial. But the jury got the message.
The judge was very kind really – she summed up that she had learnt a lot about computers during the days of the trial, and their principles. She had learnt a lot about police computer forensics. She was sorry for Peter, a high flier – had had his career ruined – but she had to send him to prison – for months rather than years and put on the Sex Offenders Register for life and offer this piece of advice to one and all with the computer literacy –