A council fraud investigator who thought he was chatting to a 14-year-old boy on the gay dating site Grindr when he was actually in conversation with an undercover police officer is facing a jail sentence.
Henlow man Paul Taylor, now 48, was arrested in a police sting operation when he arrived at Fairlands Park in Stevenage expecting to meet the schoolboy, Luton Crown Court heard this week.
When an officer searched his BMW 3 series they found condoms, lubrication, wipes, Vaseline and a shoelace tied as a lasso.
Taylor, who worked in Stevenage, told the police he did not believe the person he was going to meet was under 14.
He said he believed he was the victim of a hoax and said he was going to complain to the hoaxer and warn him about his behaviour.
Taylor, of Harrier Mill, Henlow, pleaded not guilty to attempting to meet a child aged under 16 called ‘James’ following sexual grooming between 22 January and 28 January this year, but was convicted by a jury of nine men and three women.
Prosecutor Geoffrey Porter said that the undercover police officer was called Pat, but used the identity of James14.
He said: “The communication was via two online applications: Grindr, a dating app widely used in homosexual community and Kik, a messaging app like Snapchat and WhatsApp.”
Mr Porter said the officer called Taylor “Beachman,” as he used a photograph of a beach as his identity on Grindr in which he said he was interested in men aged between 18 and 26.
The prosecutor went on: “At a very early stage during their online chat Mr Taylor asked James his age.
“James said he was 14.
“He asked Mr Taylor not to report him because on Grindr you have to be 18.
“The defendant said he would not report him.
“The defendant said he was 47 and asked not to be ‘blocked’ by James on the site.”
Taylor asked for photos and the conversation swiftly moved to one of a sexual nature.
When James told him he said he was going to played football, Taylor said he had a fantasy about lads in football kit.
James told him his football kit was red and black with red socks.
Taylor is said to have replied: “Oh yum.”
Undercover officer Pat, who gave evidence to the jury behind a screen, told the jury that while posing as James, he talked about his mum, Nan and school to reiterate the message that he was 14.
He said Taylor used a bear symbol and an upward arrow on his online profile.
The officer explained: “The bear is a particular type of homosexual male with a grizzled appearance.
“The arrow upwards indicated his preferred sexual position.”
When questioned by the police Taylor said he worked in local government as a fraud investigator.
He said: “I didn’t believe he was a 14 year old.
“The profile stank - it didn’t feel right. It was wrong.
“I felt it was an older person masquerading. For stupid reasons I went to the location. I was going to have it out with him. I am aware of the age of consent.
“ I am not going to jeopardise my life, my work, my friendships for the sake of that.”
Taylor will be sentenced on October 20 when he will be made subject to a sexual harm prevention order.