A Bingley Police Community Support Officer who engaged in sexualised chat with an undercover police officer he believed was a girl aged 13 has been jailed for ten months.
David Mallard, 57, had now lost his job with West Yorkshire Police and was ashamed and embarrassed, Bradford Crown Court heard today.
Mallard, of The Crescent, Bingley, pleaded guilty at Bradford and Keighley Magistrates’ Court to using an online platform on July 23 last year to attempt to cause or incite a girl under 16, namely an undercover operative using the name Tinkerbella, to engage in sexualised chat.
He also admitted attempting to communicate with Tinkerbella for sexualised chat in July, 2019.
Jailing Mallard this morning, Judge Richard Mansell QC, labelled his actions “classic grooming behaviour” pretending he was many years younger and using a false profile picture.
The court heard that Mallard was a full-time supply teacher between 1992 and 2017 and had worked for two years, until his arrest, as a PCSO.
Prosecutor Camille Morland said that the police were conducting a covert investigation into online child sexual exploitation using undercover officers posing as children.
Mallard came into contact with “Bella” on a chat forum and she told him she was 13 and lived in Wales.
He said he was 17 and they began chatting and exchanging voice mails.
Mallard said she was sexy and sent a romantic message in Spanish. He asked to see her but she said her camera was broken.
Miss Morland said the messages from Mallard became increasingly sexualised.
When they spoke on the phone, he now claimed he was 36 and from Bristol. He said he would pick her up in his convertible car and that she should wear a short skirt.
He told her she was awesome and he could fall in love with her.
The messages came to an end in July last year and Mallard was arrested at his home on August 10, 2019.
He made no comment to the police in interviews that day and on November 11.
Miss Morland stressed that no real child was involved in the offences.
Holly Clegg, Mallard’s barrister, handed in letters of reference and said he was of previous good character.
He was sad and lonely at the time because his marriage was “difficult.”
He began using chat rooms to talk to adult women and his offences with “Bella” were isolated and out of character.
Mallard was on medication for depression and anxiety and was ashamed and embarrassed.
He had lost his job as a PCSO and his marriage had broken down even further.
Since his arrest, he had taken positive steps, going on voluntary courses, and he was keen to continue his journey of rehabilitation in the community.
But Judge Mansell said: “I would be failing in my public duty if you did not go straight to prison to punish you and to deter others.”
He pointed to Mallard’s reply when “Bella” said she was 13. “Only 13, that’s okay if you are.”
He had talked of “being under the stars, holding her close and kissing her with passion.”
They were highly sexualised messages but the girl did not exist and Mallard was of previous good character.
However, he had “demonstrated practised grooming techniques” and his job as a PSCO would potentially have put him in contact with teenage girls.
Mallard must sign on the sex offender register for ten years and Judge Mansell made a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, also for ten years, preventing him from having unsupervised contact with girls under 16
Why no picture?
Police have considered this request in line with the same policy that would apply to any other defendant receiving a similar sentence.
However, it has been assessed that it does not meet the established criteria for the release of a custody image.