A man has been sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for sex offences after he travelled to London with the intention of committing his crimes.
James Ritchie, 30, (04.10.91) of Ballroyd Road, Huddersfield, arranged to travel more than 190 miles from Huddersfield to London with the intention of sexually abusing underage children.
Ritchie was charged with Arranging / Facilitating the Commission of a Child Sex Offence Contrary to section 14 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, Possession of Category A, B and C Indecent Images of Children, and Possession of Extreme Pornographic Images at Croydon Crown Court on 11 July 2020, and held on remand. He was sentenced to eight years immediate custodial imprisonment at the Inner London Crown Court on Friday, 21 May.
The sentencing comes after Ritchie approached a covert profile online believing they could help him gain access to young children. During the conversations, Ritchie described in detail the abuse that he intended to commit, and his desire to gain access to children of an extremely young age. Ritchie sent a number of intimate images of himself and requested that they were shown to the children before he met with them, and made claims of abusing other children in the past.
Ritchie, who has a degree in Engineering, also divulged that he had added extra security measures to his phone, including a ‘kill switch’ which would delete the entire contents of the phone if necessary, in order to hide his offending from his partner and family.
After weeks of conversation across various messaging platforms and conversations on the phone, Ritchie agreed with the individual he was speaking to online to travel to London to meet and abuse the children. He intended to stay for the duration of the weekend.
On 10 July 2020, Ritchie drove for over four hours from Huddersfield to Clapham. Ritchie was arrested by officers on scene, who took possession of his phone whilst it was unlocked. This prevented him from hitting the ‘kill switch’ he had previously described, securing evidence which proved essential at trial.
A search was conducted of his home address by Met officers, supported by West Yorkshire Police, and a number of electronic devices were recovered and forensically examined.
Following review of the devices officers had seized, it was identified that Ritchie had a number of images of child sexual abuse, including Category A images – the most explicit form of indecent images of children. Enquiries were also conducted into the legitimacy of his claims of child abuse in the past.
PC Gurpreet Singh, of the Met’s Online Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation Command, said: “Ritchie is a dangerous individual who stated that he was not sure that he would be ‘able to control himself’ if he were to come into contact with children younger than six years old.
“The work of our team, which involved hours of online research and meticulous evidence gathering, helped us put together a robust casefile and submit multiple charges to the Crown Prosecution Service, which has ultimately landed Ritchie this lengthy custodial sentence. Ritchie will also be a Registered Sex Offender for the rest of his life. We hope that our dedication to this investigation will reassure the public that The Met work obstinately to protect the most vulnerable people in our society.
“If you feel that you have been a victim of crime such as this, we appeal for you to contact police to make a report, or contact Crimestoppers UK completely anonymously online or call 0800 555 111.
“The Met has teams who are absolutely dedicated to investigating cases such as this, and can provide the help and support that you are entitled to. We also partner with charities who can help you through the reporting process and beyond. Please do contact us if there is anything that we can help with.”