A married dad-of-two who claims he has spent the last decade struggling with his sexuality has finally admitted a jury was right to convict him of trying to meet a 15-year-old boy for sex.
Maurice Peacock, 78, of Parsloe Road on the outskirts of Harlow, was found guilty of attempting to meet a child in Harlow after grooming him and sending a series of explicit videos and photos.
He had previously denied all charges but after a conversation with his barrister before his sentencing hearing this morning (Thursday December 20), Peacock, who helped to run Tye Green Indoor Bowls Club, admitted his guilt.
The pensioner was snared by one of our investigators who used a decoy to set up a profile of a 15-year old boy on the gay dating app Grindr.
At Chelmsford Crown Court prosecutor Raj Joshi outlined the facts of the case to the court.
On May 15 shortly after 2pm, the online investigator received a message by an account held by the defendant which was named ‘Daddy for Teen’.
The profile named ‘Boredteenager’ told Peacock that he was 15 to which he replied with ‘nice’ and the conversation continued.
During that time, Peacock sent the profile two images of a penis, one video of male masturbating and another video of man having anal sex.
While discussing meeting up, the profile asked what they would do to which Peacock replies: ‘Meet you and like to suck your c***.’
Mr Joshi told the court the profile continually said he was 15 or was at school age during their conversations.
On May 17, the two arranged to meet at McDonald’s at 10.40am and the investigator rang the police after spotting Peacock’s grey Mercedes.
Peacock, who has no previous convictions, was arrested and told officers in the car: “I have arranged to meet a lad because I’m gay/bisexual.”
Addressing Judge Emma Peters, Mr Joshi claimed that although this was an attempt, there was continued contact and reminded the judge of the pornography that he said could have been classed as “extreme.”
Peacock also asked for the profile’s number so that they could Whatsapp which Mr Joshi reiterated was encrypted.
John Cammegh, mitigating lawyer for Peacock, described how his client denied criminal culpability claiming he had gone ahead with the conversation to “out a paedo hunter”.
“He was not able to recognise the seriousness of his actions and believed that he does not require intervention. He was annoyed at receiving a sentence.
“With that in mind, I have had a robust conversation with Mr Peacock this morning and his wife, who is the real victim of all of this.
“In face of photographers outside the building, she has continued to come here. One of his children has travelled all the way from Dallas with her husband and two children.
“It is quite remarkable when one sees that much loyalty and love which has been placed under stress.
“He struggled with the idea that as they go over the age of consent they are no longer vulnerable, that is a matter that troubled the writer of the report and certainly troubled me.”
The defendant, who looked down throughout the hearing, began to sob in the dock as his barrister described the struggles he faced with his sexuality.
“This morning in this court he has finally realised that he can’t hide from this any longer, he cannot deny what is known to be the truth that what happened was never the less a criminal offence and one for which he is criminally culpable,” Mr Cammegh continued.
“He can no longer bear the burden. He has acknowledged that he has a serious problem and that problem is in relation to teenage males. He accepts he was rightly convicted.
“This has been very difficult for him to confront in public. He is from a time where homosexuality was looked on with shame and disgrace. He has struggled over the last ten years that he is bisexual and thought the safest way is to just deny it as he has done to the world outside.
“He wishes to apologise to everyone concerned; to his family, to the court and to the jury for having heard this miserable case.”
Sentencing Peacock, Judge Peters told Peacock: “You grew up in an era when homosexuality was illegal. Let me be clear, homosexual relationships are just as loving as decent as heterosexual relationships, this case is about your attempt to meet a child.
“You have finally accepted that you have a problem, the problem is not that you are a homosexual, the problem is that you are attracted to children.
“You groomed him over period a period of three days talking to him about sexual activity and sending him two videos. Then you attempted to meet this boy you believed to be 15, that was a child and that is why you are in the dock.
“If it had been a real boy you could face up to seven years imprisonment. I can’t ignore that there was no child. Nonetheless, even though it wasn’t a real child, that still could see two years imprisonment with a range of one to four years. There is no question that your offending very clearly crosses the threshold.”
Maurice Peacock was handed a two-year sentence for online grooming, and two 18 month sentences for sending pictures and videos to someone he thought was under 16. This was suspended for two years and was ordered to carry out 50 days of rehabilitation days and complete the Horizon program.
He is also required to sign the sex offenders register for 10 years along with a sexual harm prevention order.
He was required to pay court costs of £2,800, within one month.