Police sting catches chat room prowler

PUBLISHED: 16:03 03 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:08 06 May 2010

BUSINESSMAN Ronak Thakrar spent six months grooming a 14-year-old schoolgirl in a chatroom – not realising she had been invented by undercover police. Thakrar, aged 33, a television installer of Craigweil Avenue, Radlett, travelled from his home to a So

BUSINESSMAN Ronak Thakrar spent six months grooming a 14-year-old schoolgirl in a chatroom - not realising she had been "invented" by undercover police.

Thakrar, aged 33, a television installer of Craigweil Avenue, Radlett, travelled from his home to a South London park last December in the hope of meeting the youngster.

But when he arrived he found the police waiting to arrest him, Southwark Crown Court heard last week.

During the period that Thakrar, using the name of Ronnie, was grooming the "schoolgirl" in the chatagogo chatroom he performed a live striptease and a sex act via webcam for his police audience. He also sent the imaginary girl lewd photos of himself.

In court on Friday he admitted two counts of causing a child to watch a sexual image and one charge of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.

Rachel Bright, prosecuting, told the court that the offences arose out of Operation Ground, a proactive covert internet investigation, the purpose of which was to set up an online profile of a girl and post the profile in various chatrooms and networking sites.

When Thakrar first contacted the imaginary girl last June, her profile said she was 16 but shortly afterwards she told him she was in fact 14.

Thakrar quickly initiated sex talk and offered to show her an obscene photo of himself but admitted he was worried about the police.

He suggested they should meet up in her school holidays and that she should email him about things she wanted to do apart from kiss. But he said to her when he asked to take her for a drive: "I'm taking a big risk meeting up with you because you are 14."

Thakrar had fantasised about helping her change out of her school uniform when they met - only to find plain clothes police officers waiting for him.

Deborah Morris, defending, said there was no evidence that Thakrar had viewed underage girls sexually prior to the offence. There were no indecent images of children on his computer and all his other online flirtations were with adult women.

She said Thakrar, who has a baby son and a wife who is standing by him, had built a "fantasy world" around meeting women.

Recorder Andrew Trollope agreed with a probation report that Thakrar needed treatment not punishment. As part of a community order, he will have to complete a 36-month sex offender's treatment programme and sign on as a sex offender for five years.

The judge said: "In my judgement this conduct by you was dangerous. I have to protect young girls from predatory behaviour by you to ensure that you never behave in this way again. I am just persuaded that the circumstances of this case do not require me to pass a custodial sentence.

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