A police officer who indulged in vile sexual chat with an online stranger about abusing children has avoided an immediate jail term.
Former Preston PC Robert Shale, 50, will still receive a £38,000 lump sum from his police pension.
He tried to seek a medical discharge and medical pension after being found out, but it is understood this was refused by the force.
The married dad, of Tower Green, Fulwood, Preston, had worked for Lancashire Constabulary for 22 years, but was found guilty of five counts of attempting to arrange or facilitate the sexual abuse of children in May, following a trial before Liverpool Crown Court.
He was arrested after being snared by TWO undercover colleagues from other police forces, who he believed were adults offering to set up sexual encounters with children.
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Prosecuting, Peter Cadwallader said: " The matters started at the end of August 2017,
"An undercover officer was using the name Mummy G and that individual entered the website Chatstep.com
"She began a private chat with a man using the name 'Dave'. The man in fact is the defendant Robert Shale
"In essence there was a discussion between the defendant and Mummy G' over 'Mummy G's' suggested daughter, who was aged 11,
"Of course no such daughter existed but the defendant didn't know that and believed she was real.
"There was discussion about sexual acts between the defendant and the 11-year-old daughter.
"They were talking and the defendant was discussing sharing his penis with the 11-year old daughter and having sexual activity with her
"Matters progressed to the point were they were discussing an actual meeting, the defendant believing 'Mummy G' lived in the North West.
" When it was discussed, she was pretending to be from the East Midlands the conversation ended and no meeting was ever arranged.
"That brought that matter to an end.
"The next stage takes us to January 2018. The defendant was again on the internet and on January 4 another undercover officer using the name 'Jackie' was on Chatstep and Motherless.com
"She was contacted by the defendant, who was at that stage using the names "48 Preston", "Dave Lancs" and "Dave D".
"There were conversations between the defendant and Jackie spanning the January 4 to 22.
"During those conversations the first individual that was discussed-again not a real person - was a friend and supposed daughter of a friend of Jackie. The age given was 12 ad there was discussion about sexual activity with her however Jackie indicated this girl would inevitably speak to her mother about matters so the defendant ended on that.
"In terms of the general discussion, the defendant indicated he was interested in children as young as nine. He discussed full sexual intercourse with children under 16.
" Matters moved on and there was discussion next of the niece of Jackie who was 12 years of age. Matters moved on to two young girls that 'Jackie' had indicated she was in contact with - they were aged 12 and 13
"One of the girls was given the name Jade, 13, and there were suggestions by the defendant, with a grooming element, to Jackie how she could encourage Jade to become involved in sexual conversations leading, it was suggested, to meetings and sexual activity with the three of them - Jackie, Jade and the defendant.
"Nothing happened and no meeting was arranged.
"Matters were of course pursued by the police and the defendant was eventually identified and he was arrested at his home on February 5, 2018.
"He was interviewed the same day but declined to answer questions. However he admitted he had conversed over the internet with one woman and he appeared to blame her for directing him to various sites and pushing the boundaries and he said that it was 'pure fantasy' and he never intended any child sex offences would actually be carried out.
"He was again interviewed in March 2018 and again declined to answer questions."
Shale maintained throughout his trial that it was " pure fantasy " with no intention to harm children.
Defending, Richard Orme said: " He is deeply embarrassed, not least because of his family but also because of his profession.
"Your Honour will be aware that the author of report has made positive comments that he is willing to admit he obtained sexual gratification from these offences."
The court heard Shale had claimed he had been on a downward spiral since suffering a spinal injury in an assault while on frontline police duties, leading to him being taken off frontline duties and put behind a desk.
Mr Orme said he found himself increasing his alcohol intake and suffering erectile dysfunction, and had taken to "pushing the boundaries" to try and "excite himself".
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Judge Robert Warnock, sentencing, said: " In summary you used the internet believing you were setting up sexual assaults by you and possibly others against children.
"In fact as it transpired you were not conversing with adults relating to the abuse of children -you were conversing with two other police officers, who were tracking your deviant behaviour.
" I do not accept physical injuries sustained in the course of your duties were the cause of this behaviour - you still had a sexual interest in children that must be addressed.
"My primary concern in the protection of children. Not only must I protect children and the public generally, but I must consider your rehabilitation.
"You could have absolutely no complaint if imprisoned you I'm today but I'm not going to do so."
He imposed 18 months suspended for two years, with a rehabilitation order to attend the Horizon programme to address sex offending
He was placed on the Sex offender's register for a decade and must pay £2,000 costs.
Shale had worked as a uniformed officer at Preston, until being injured and placed in a 'desk role'.
The Post understands he was suspended on full pay when the probe began, and then applied to be retired on "ill health" grounds, but it was rejected.
He then resigned before a misconduct hearing could be held.
The court heard Shale will still receive a lump sum of £38,000 and his full pension at a later stage.
Since his arrest he has been living at his parents and sleeping on a sofa, with contact twice a week with his children.
His wife Dawn was present in court and continues to stands by him.
After the case, a Lancashire Police spokesman said: "We would like to stress that the despicable actions of this officer are utterly abhorrent and this type of behaviour is not tolerated within Lancashire Constabulary.
"We remain committed to serving our communities and to protecting the most vulnerable members of society and Shale’s actions undermine the daily work undertaken to identify and protect victims of crime and those most in need.”