A Hastings man has been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment after being convicted of grooming someone he believed to be a teenage boy and arranging to meet him for sex.
Police today (Tuesday, April 21) revealed Steven Haldane, a photographer, from Cambridge Gardens, Hastings, was sentenced earlier this month for arranging and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity on 19 August last year.
Haldane was caught after a trio of residents grew suspicious of him and set up a fake internet account posing as a teenage boy.
Detectives in East Sussex received information from three local people that Haldane was planning to meet a 13-year-old boy he had come across via the internet.
However, the ‘boy’ was a bogus identity created by the trio, who knew Haldane, after they became suspicious about material and entries they had spotted on his account.
After they arranged for the ‘boy’ to meet Haldane outside Hastings railway station on the morning of 19 August they did not intend to keep the appointment themselves and referred the matter to the police.
Haldane did not keep the appointment but on the same day detectives arrested Haldane and searched his home address, seizing electronic devices which contained the indecent material.
Detective Constable Rob Tillyer said; “We have no evidence that Haldane has currently committed any sex offences against young boys, although he has a previous conviction for a sexual assault on a young boy in Scotland 24 years ago but he made his intentions very clear in the web message exchanges and the court was clearly satisfied that he is a danger to the public.
“We will always follow up information of this kind, and this man will now have no opportunity to endanger the safety of young boys for the foreseeable future.
“We are glad that the people concerned came to us and the court found that they were acting lawfully.
“The information they provided was key in the investigation.
“However, we do not encourage members of the public to carry out investigations themselves, especially in such a sensitive type of case.
“They could have jeopardised evidence, hindered chances of prosecution, or most importantly have risked harm to themselves.”
Sentencing at Hove Crown Court on Wednesday, April 8, Judge Charles also advised them against taking matters into their own hands, saying it is better for police to run such an operation.
The 47-year-old was convicted at a trial earlier this year.
He was also convicted of possession of indecent videos and nearly 600 indecent still images of young boys, which were found by police when they searched his flat.
The first nine years of the 14-year sentence will be served in prison custody and the remaining five will be spent on prison release licence.
He is also subject to an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.
The order severely restricts his access to children and the internet and he will be a registered sex offender for life.