Online sex offender spared jail to care for sick father

A MAN who was caught by a Metropolitan Police sting operation targeting potential internet child sex abuse was spared jail yesterday to care for his sick father.

James Farina, 32, came to the attention of officers after he began sending private messages to a fictitious profile of "Emily", a 14-year-old girl, set up by police on a teen chatroom.

Sentencing him to a three-year community order at Southwark Crown Court, Geoffrey Rivlin QC said: "The sentence must be seen in the main as a compassionate sentence which has regard to the fact that you are the principal carer for your sick father."

Prosecutor Usha Shergill told the court Farina asked the "teenager" if she wanted to see his naked picture during contact in late August 2010, then sent an image of himself and asked her what she thought.

She said: "He went on to ask Emily extremely personal questions, including whether she was a virgin and what her bra size was."

On another occasion, he quizzed her further about whether she was wearing a thong and if she could do a striptease, and despite being aware of her age invited her to engage in sexual activity.

Farina of Hornchurch, Essex, later asked the "teenager" whether she would like to meet him and when she went back to school.

During subsequent communications, he mentioned had sexual feelings for her.

The court heard how Farina arranged to meet "Emily" in Battersea Park on September 7.

When police officers at the scene spotted his vehicle, he drove off at speed but was stopped and arrested. He declined to answer questions in interview.

He was later taken to hospital after being sick and collapsing in his cell with low blood sugar.

Police conducting the investigation discovered nine level one indecent images on his home computer.

He pleaded guilty on November 12 to 10 charges, including four counts of attempting to engage in sexual activity in the presence of a child, one count of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, one count of attempting to cause a child to watch a sexual act, one count of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming, one count of making indecent photographs of a child and two counts of possessing indecent photographs of a child.

George Payne, mitigating said Farina was at the time of the offences coping with the end of a relationship and had begun using cannabis.

The judge said: "It would seem that almost as soon as you had this profile up, this defendant was accessing it and in contact with this fictitious young girl."

Farina was also ordered to take part in a sex offenders treatment programme, made subject to a sex offenders prevention order for eight years and placed on the sex offenders register for five years.