Police pose as web ‘girl’

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court
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A BLACKPOOL father thought he was befriending a 14-year-old girl on the internet but was actually speaking to an undercover detective as part of a sting to net perverts, a court has heard.

A jury at Preston Crown Court was told Kevin Scott Staskewicz communicated with an officer posing as a teen called “Chloe”.

The 42-year-old exposed himself via a webcam and ended up being arrested at the Houndshill shopping centre where he had allegedly arranged to meet the girl.

Staskewicz claims he had known all along he had not been communicating with a youngster, but someone “winding him up” by pretending to be an underage girl.

The defendant of Enfield Road, North Shore, denies one charge of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming and another of attempting to engage in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

Paul Cummings, prosecuting, said undercover officers were last year granted permission to go onto the internet and engage in conversations while pretending to be youngsters.

Initially, this was done through a website called UKchatterbox. In particular, they chose to concentrate on communications going through the Fylde channel.

Mr Cummings said: “A police officer went on to the site on October 15 last year and very quickly, once he was on the site, became involved in a conversation with the defendant.

“Very quickly that conversation moved from Chatterbox to Yahoo Messenger.

“The defendant quickly declared he had an interest in young girls.

“We say, without doubt, the defendant’s purpose in communicating was to have sex with the person he thought was a 14-year-old girl by the name of Chloe.

“In one exchange the defendant could be seen, because he had a webcam attached to his computer, to show his genitals and other parts of his body to the camera.

“He asked her what she thought of his body.

“He repeatedly asked her for pictures of herself. The officer wasn’t able to provide him with pictures because it was a police officer, so he made explanations and excuses why pictures were not available.”

The prosecution allege Staskewicz wanted to have sex with the girl and told her so in graphic detail.

It is claimed an arrangement was made for them to meet up in Blackpool on October 22, near to Debenhams.

The police were waiting for him and he was arrested.

Staskewicz accepted he sent messages, had used the camera and that it was him exposing himself.

Mr Cummings added: “He now says he knew all along the person he was talking to was in fact just winding him up, pretending to be an underage girl.”

An undercover officer, identified only as C180, gave evidence about chat room conversations he had with the defendant over several days. Transcripts were read out of things Staskewicz had said online.

In one he told her: “I’m no Clooney.” He went on to speak about his belly and his “man boobs”.

He asked the girl if she thought he was “sexy” and told her: “I’m really a kid at heart still. I love to joke around.”

He said he was an American, had a wife and described himself as a house husband.

The undercover officer, who gave evidence screened off from the public gallery, due to the nature of his job, denied a defence suggestion he had posted a coercive message online.

He added: “No messages were posted by me.”

At the time of his arrest, Staskewicz was sitting on a seat in the arcade with his four-year-old daughter, when police approached.

When arrested and cautioned, he allegedly told them: “Are you not allowed to chat to anyone online? This is entrapment.”

Staskewicz, a man without any convictions, was interviewed three times by detectives and gave no comment answers to their questions.