Disgraced former detective Christopher Richards has been jailed for six years after explicit chatroom chats led to his fall from grace.
The former nurse was convicted by a jury on Monday, October 18, of two charges.
The six-year sentence was imposed on a charge of attempting to arrange the commission of a child sex offence on December 19, 2019.
Richards, then working for Leicestershire Police’s complex crime unit, told a man called “Lee” online, who turned out to be an undercover police officer, that he wanted to make love to Lee’s step-son.
Judge James Sampson, who sentenced Richards, of West Bridgford, said the defendant had told the undercover police officer he wanted to meet and make love to his fictitious step-son.
“The fact you were proposing to commit the offence with another adult is an aggravating factor,” he said.
Richards, who resigned from the force in May, was also convicted by a jury at Nottingham Crown Court of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child on a day before March 12, 2020.
This was met with a one-year concurrent sentence. Richards had been communicating with a boy who said he was 13. The defendant responded by saying “hot” (about the boy) and asked to swap pictures of each other’s faces.
The person had replied, “I hate live pics”, and made reference to being in a Spanish class at the time.
The boy had replied, saying he did not send pictures of his bottom, and the defendant had said: “Oh, okay, I don’t mind. I just like boys LOL (laugh out loud).”
Police have not been able to trace whoever the person was to confirm he was in fact a 13-year-old boy, which is why the offence was charged as an attempt.
The judge said the conversation was short-lived and, although the communication was undoubtedly sexual, “it did not appear to be leading to anything other than talk”.
The jury found him not guilty of one charge (count 2) on Tuesday, October 19. This alleged causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity on a day before March 12, 2020, where he allegedly caused or incited a 14-year-old boy to engage in a sex act.
Richards, 45, received concurrent sentences for six charges of making indecent images of children – 16 images across all Categories from A (the most serious) to C, the least serious, which were found on two mobile phones.
“All were of male children including images of rape and humiliation,” the court was told.
The court was told it was clear Richards was using anti-forensic apps such as Shred-It and encrypted Cloud storage, and that Richards was looking at images of this nature from late 2016 and he had a “sexual interest in male children”.
Richards had admitted to the jury his pornography habit was “out of control”.
“At all times you were duty-bound to uphold the law,” said the judge. The fact he was a serving police officer is a “significant aggravating factor,” he added.
Richards, sitting in the dock with no visible emotion, was told: “Every rotten police officer undermines, in a wholly disproportionate way, public confidence in the police service.”
Head of the Professional Standards Department at Leicestershire Police, Detective Superintendent Rich Ward, said: “Preventing and tackling sexual offences and child sexual abuse are key priorities in the force.
“We provided full support to Nottinghamshire Police during their investigation into Richards and our thanks go to them for their dedicated work to bring this case to court and ensuring that justice was served.
“Richards should have been a person who the public and force could trust without question to carry out his duty as a police officer and to demonstrate the highest level of personal and professional behaviour.
“He has severely breached this trust we had in him by committing these abhorrent offences.
“This behaviour is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated by us as a force. Although Richards has previously resigned from Leicestershire Police, we will now progress internal misconduct proceedings to ensure that Richards is barred from working in policing.”
The case was investigated by Nottinghamshire Police.
Detective Constable Sarah Clarke, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “The safety and security of children is an absolute priority for Nottinghamshire Police and we will always take immediate action when we believe an adult poses a threat to them – either on-line or in person.
“Richards’ very clearly has a sexual interest in children and made clear attempts to engage young people in sexual activity. Without the very proactive work of numerous police officers he may well have been successful in this ambition.
“I am pleased that he has now been held to account for his actions and hope this case serves as a warning to other people. If you approach other children in this way it is more likely than ever before that we will find out about it and put you before the courts.”
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