Former Shropshire PGL worker sent explicit pictures to undercover officers

A man who sent explicit pictures to online profiles he believed to be owned by teenage girls was caught by undercover police officers.

Steven Horne, 30, targeted the profiles of two fictional girls, 'Lily' and 'Sienna', on the social media app Kik.

Horne, who was furloughed from his job at a Shropshire outdoor adventure centre at the time of the offences, made contact with both of the profiles and sent explicit images and requests.

He spoke to 'Lily' for about a month between June and July, and 'Sienna' from August to October.

Shrewsbury Crown Court heard that the accounts were actually being operated by undercover police, who were able to trace and arrest Horne.

He pleaded guilty within an hour of being arrested and was brought to court on Friday to be sentenced for two counts of attempting to engage in sexual conversations with children.

His representative in court, Mr Andrew Holland, said Horne had been seeking help and had referred himself to a GP.

Mr Holland said: "He was aware of his issues and unfortunately, events caught up with him.

"His wish to progress and fix, if I can use that word, his difficulties has not stopped."

Serious offending

The court heard Horne had begun working with the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, which offers support for victims of child sexual abuse as well as those with harmful behaviours.

Horne, of Birch Close, Shrewsbury, was fired from his job at the PGL adventure centre in Baschurch, Boreatton Park, when the offences came to light.

Judge Peter Barrie told the defendant that although no actual child was harmed, the court still took such offences seriously because of the risk online behaviour could progress and present a risk of physical offending.

He gave Horne a community charge to last three years and include 55 days of rehabilitation activities, 60 hours of unpaid work and notification requirements.

Horne is also subject to a sexual harm prevention order, restricting his internet use and contact with young people.

A statement from PGL said: "The safety and safeguarding of our guests is our number one priority.

"Although these offences were committed whilst our centre was closed to guests and our staff furloughed, we have worked closely with all the relevant authorities.

"All our staff undergo rigorous disclosure and barring checks and follow extremely strict safeguarding protocols. We continue to work tirelessly to ensure the safety of our guests and staff.”

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