back to article Ex-councillor jailed for grooming blackmailer posing as teen

A 52-year-old Londoner has been jailed for 15 months after he was caught attempting to sexually groom a child online. Scotland Yard said that John Friary, of Camberwell Road, SE5, was sentenced last Friday at Isleworth Crown Court. Friary, a former Labour councillor, was snared by a blackmailer posing as a 15-year-old girl on …

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Anonymous Coward

What is it with these people and those moustaches?

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Bronze badge

It's movember - didn't you get the memo.

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So the Lesson here is

if you are being blackmailed roll over and accept it, because if the blackmailer is caught you'll get busted too...

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Silver badge

I was mildly pleased to see the blackmailer at least got a longer sentence. But then again, not that much longer. A more appropriate outcome IMHO would be to give this guy immunity (or at least a super-light sentence) in exchange for testifying against the blackmailer.

What really worries me about this case is that when the police do these stings, there are certain legal limits on what they can do. Even the clowns behind To Catch A Predator had their rules of engagement. (e.g. never claim to be legal age, don't bring up sex first.) But I wouldn't expect an extortionist to operate with any semblance of fairness whatsoever.

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Meh

So ...

... jailed for trying to have it off with a blackmailer ....

Would thesentence have been longer if the blackmailer had dresed up as a fifteen year old gilr and consumated the relationship?

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Anonymous Coward

"a serious sexual offence"

A crime so serious that in many (European) countries it's not even illegal (even if the victim had existed).

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Re: a serious sexual offence

>it's not even illegal

I think you'll find it's not so straight forward. Generally it's not illegal when, for example, the ages are close, the older person is under 18 or the older person is not taking advantage of the inmaturity/inexperience of the younger person. In most cases a 52 year old having sex with a 15 year old would still be illegal.

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Anonymous Coward

When the only 15yr-olds

who will chat with you are grown men trying to blackmail you, you're not what I'd call a succesful (sexual) predator..

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Anonymous Coward

Hold on a minute! So two legally aged men talked to each other on the internet. Granted their intentions were distastful but where exactly is the crime here?

Are we going to start arresting people for fantasing about bank robbery next? How about we lock up all those murder mystery writers too!?

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Anonymous Coward

@AC

Fantasising about bank robbery would be called conspiracy, which is really very iligal.

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Meh

You could make the same argument against To Catch a Predator. None of those "criminals" ever did anything illegal, since the people they chat to online are decoys, and are all of age.

I also like how he is branded a pedophile and put on the register for attempting to have sex with a "child". This "child" will be able to legally have sex in less than a year. Not defending him at all, but at the very least the wording should be a little different, both legally and journalistically. If 15-16 is the difference between child and adult, then who is an "adolescent" or "young adult"?

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Anonymous Coward

@Br0die

It's not that 15/16 is the difference between adult and child, it's that 15-15 is the difference between being considered to legally be able to consent and not being considered to legally consent. You aren't allowed to vote at 16, which is considered an "adult" thing to do, you can't take out a credit agreement, etc.

That's not to say that the consent laws in the UK shouldn't be changed, it's illegal for a 16 year old boy to have sex with a 15 year old girl, even if they're in the same year at school, but it's ok for Chris Evans to marry Billie Piper when he was 35 (IIRC) and she was 16. That's pretty screwed up, in my opinion and we should look at having a rolling age of consent up to maybe 18 or 21, when anything goes, as is the case in many EU countries.

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Meh

It takes two, three or more to have a conspiracy

Depending on your jurisdiction, you can;t conspire until you have a given number of people. In Canada one would be fantasying, two would be chatting but three or more is conspiracy.

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Anonymous Coward

Chris Evans & Billie Piper YDRC (you don't remember correctly)

Was 34 & 18 respectively, so a fully legal adult. Wouldn't have taken much to look up really?

Don't want it to become an internet fact and all that...

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Meh

Re: @Br0die

Which leads to several other points. 1) ephebophilia is not paedophilia, 2) the laws on sexual intercourse and age in the UK were changed during Victorian times due to the number of child prostitutes and the campaigning activities of a reformer, 3) there are countries where sexual intercourse with people younger than 16 is legal, 4) biology has the habit of making 'children' sexually active/mature/capable of reproduction.

Genuine paedophilia is genuinely repugnant. Genuine mistakes are genuinely sad. In between there are many points of debate that I have seen elicit immature responses from Reg readers, possibly trolls, who have made unsavoury accusations that have been deleted by moderators.

For sure I'd like to see that part of the criminal justice system involved explain and justify themselves in full glare, and I'd like to see the blackmailer dealt with severely, also in full glare; it was clearly using a sensitive topic to raise money in a targeted manner. People whose blackmail practise is targeted, selective, deliberate are among the lowest of creatures. This is the lowest and most disgusting form of entrapment, and entrapment is very definitely a form of recruitment.

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Anonymous Coward

Thought crime

So a man gets jailed for talking to another man on the internet? Because a victim, who doesn't actually exist might have been attacked, but wasn't?

It's a little disturbing that this is considered justice.

Why not just arrest random people because of all the crimes they might commit, in a fabricated set of circumstances, in a parallel universe!

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So crime is based on belief now, if I believe she is over 16, if she tells me she if over 16 is that legal?

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I thought it was something like that

Well, if you have good reason to believe the person is over 16 -- for example, if you meet the girl in an over-18 club -- it would form a reasonably solid defence.

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Anonymous Coward

My understanding* is that a reasonable (but mistaken) belief the other person is over 16 is indeed a defense, but if their true age is under 13, then it becomes strict liability.

IANALOEB (I am not a lawyer or even British)

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IT Angle

Sounds vaguely like....

Minority report?

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RE: Sounds vaguely like....

Well a bit, but definitely more like Orwell's 'thought crime'. I think it became quite vogue from 1997 onward.

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Anonymous Coward

Ah, the Internet

Where the men are men, the women are men, and the children are FBI agents.

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Re: Ah, the Internet

"Where the men are men, the women are men, and the children are FBI agents."

...and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri are /real/ small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.

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I am glad to see the adult reaction of contributors above.

I well knew and liked John Friary, 1994 - 98, during my single term on Southwark Council.

And this is very, very sad. John is gross in form, weighing about 25 stone in old money. I doubt if he ever stood much chance of the mutual pleasures most of us take for granted.

The article tells that he was sentenced but not what he got, 21 months here : http://www.4ni.co.uk/northern_ireland_news.asp?id=135100 . I hope he gets out soon and recovers well.

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Facepalm

Shucks, this is no better than the 'drive by witnessing' notoriously found in the McMartin controversy, now found to be utterly false; never mention that someone has committed a crime and then appeal for fresh witnesses, because plenty will probably turn up, many of them not genuine. It is a form of recruitment that PACE was intended to stop, and yet here the police are behaving in a manner that conflicts with their training and regulations.

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