Herts council fraud investigator who tried to meet 14-year-old for sexual encounter jailed for attempted grooming

Taylor went to Fairlands Valley Park in Stevenage where he was arrested.

Taylor went to Fairlands Valley Park in Stevenage where he was arrested. - Credit: Archant

An investigator from Henlow whose job is to help councils in Stevenage and North Herts weed out benefit fraudsters has been jailed for 15 months after being caught in a police sting arranging to meet what he thought was a 14-year-old schoolboy for a sexual encounter.

Paul Taylor, who is employed by Hertfordshire County Council but works as part of a shared anti-fraud service with North Herts District Council and Stevenage Borough Council, was sentenced by Judge Nigel Lithman at Luton Crown Court on Friday after being convicted of an offence of attempted grooming.

The 48-year-old of Harrier Mill, Henlow, had previously denied the offence but was convicted by a jury of nine men and three women at Luton Crown Court.

Taylor unknowingly began chatting to a police officer posing as a 14-year-old boy on the gay dating site Grindr.

Prosecutor Jeffrey Parker told the court how Taylor began messaging the undercover police officer called Pat – who used the tag James14 on gay dating websites Grindr and Kik.

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The officer called Taylor ‘Beachman’ as he used a photograph of a beach as his identity on Grindr – in which he said he was interested in men aged between 18 and 26.

Taylor then asked for photos of ‘James14’ and the conversation quickly moved to one of a sexual nature.

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When James told him he was going to play football, Taylor said he had a fantasy about lads in football kit.

James told him his football kit was red and black with red socks. Taylor is said to have replied: “Oh yum.”

Undercover officer Pat, who gave evidence to the jury behind a screen, said Taylor used a bear symbol and an upward arrow on his online profile which is used in the gay community to represent a male with a grizzled appearance and to indicate a particular sexual position.

When questioned by the police, Taylor said he worked in local government as a fraud investigator and said he went to Stevenage’s Fairlands Valley Park only to meet the person because he thought the profile must be a fake.

When an officer searched Taylor’s BMW 3 series they found condoms, lubrication, wipes, Vaseline and a shoelace tied as a lasso.

Taylor was ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register and was given a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years.

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