'Very high risk' paedophile who groomed 12-year-old has sentence doubled

Paedophile used hidden devices to groom 12 year old

A "very high risk" sex offender, Paul Weekley, was snared by police after he groomed a 12 year-old girl online who turned out to be an undercover officer. - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

A paedophile caught when an undercover police officer posed as an underage girl online has had his prison sentence doubled on appeal.

Paul Weekley, 61, was jailed for three years and four months at Norwich Crown Court in June for having secret online sex chats with a girl he believed to be a 12-year-old called Becca.

The Attorney General's Office referred the case to the Court of Appeal under the unduly lenient sentence scheme.

The Court of Appeal

The Court of Appeal ruled the original sentence of Paul Weekley had been unduly lenient. - Credit: PA

The court has now ruled that Weekley's jail term should be increased to six years and eight months with an extension period of four years on licence. 

Weekley, from Great Yarmouth, had admitted attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, attempting to engage in sexual activity in front of a child and attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity.

He also admitted possession of indecent photographs of children and breaching a previous sexual harm prevention order.

Lord Justice Singh, sitting with two other judges, said that sentencing judge Andrew Shaw had been unduly lenient in his original sentence and had given too much weight to ‘Becca’ being an undercover police officer rather than a real child.

The Solicitor General, Alex Chalk, who welcomed the increase in sentence, said: “Weekley’s actions intended to cause serious harm to a young child and the gravity of his crimes must be reflected in the sentence. 

The Solicitor General, Alex Chalk

The Solicitor General, Alex Chalk. - Credit: UK Parliament

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“His actions were deeply disturbing and I am pleased with the Court of Appeal’s decision today to increase the sentence.”

His trial had heard that Weekley had numerous previous convictions for possessing indecent images of children and was subject to a sexual harm prevention order and notification requirements.

He had breached this by maintaining an internet-enabled device in his home and had failed to inform the police that he had an online alias and a second address in Salisbury Road, Great Yarmouth.

At his original sentencing Judge Shaw said that he was a “very high risk individual".

"It is only a matter of time before you seek out a child in person and cause substantial harm to that child by committing a serious sexual offence,” he added.

He also placed Weekley on the sex offenders register for life.