Bradley Daniel Alford was caught by undercover police in a sting – but he had already targeted girls as young as 10 and had nude pictures on his phone.
A paedophile arranged to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex at Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier, just hours after he had appeared in court.
But the ‘victim’ Bradley Alford had been grooming was an undercover police officer – and he was arrested in the seaside town on September 15.
The 19-year-old, of Drove Road, Weston-super-Mare, had appeared in court on the morning of his arrest, having pleaded not guilty to other offences.
But what Alford did not realise was that the ‘girl’, called Jade, was in fact an undercover police officer, who had recorded all of their online conversations.
He appeared at Bristol Crown Court on Friday, December 1, to be sentenced for a range of offences which included possession of indecent photos of children, attempting to meet a child, inciting a child to send sexual images and inciting a child to engage in sexual intercourse.
It emerged during the sentencing hearing that police first learned of Alford’s sexual offending when he was arrested following a stabbing at a house party in Bristol in July 2016.
He had used a kitchen knife during a street fight with another teenager, after the pair had argued on social media site Facebook.
While in police custody, officers examined Alford’s phone and found images of young girls posing naked or semi-naked.
Investigators also downloaded his internet history, which revealed he had visited various child pornography websites, and there was evidence of Alford inciting girls – one of whom was only 10 years old – to engage in online sexual activity.
Prosecutor Robin Shellard said: “They were clearly at school and Mr Alford wanted to meet them for sexual purposes knowing their age, and knowing that was under the age of 16.
“A number of girls were spoken to by police but because of their age, because of their embarrassment, not all were frank with what messages had passed between them – which is understandable.”
After his initial arrest, police bailed Alford but suspected he may still be contacting underage girls – and so decided to set up a surveillance operation.
Officers set up a fake Facebook profile for a 13-year-old girl called Jade, who added the defendant online and started messaging him.
Very quickly, the conversation became sexual – as the defendant started demanding images and trying to arrange a meet-up.
Mr Shellard added: “They discussed meeting and Mr Alford asked her to wear something cute or her school uniform.
“He also asked her for some of her underwear to keep, and said he wanted to make pornographic films to sell.
“On September 15, he travelled to Weston-super-Mare so they could meet up. When the police appeared, he ran off but was detained after a short chase. He answered no comment to all questions.”
In response, defence barrister Robert Morgan-Jones said his client was a young man who had been raised without a mother under the auspices of social services.
“This is the first time he has ever spent time in custody,” Mr Morgan-Jones said.
“He is a young man who has a deficit in thinking skills, which is an area which requires work.”
Judge Peter Blair QC sentenced Alford to six years in a young offenders institution for both the stabbing incident and the sexual offences.
He also made Alford the subject of a sexual harm prevention order and a restraining order, banning him from contacting – directly or indirectly – any of his victims.
After the case, DC Paul Newell of Avon and Somerset police, said: “I’d like to commend all the young girls in this case for having the courage to come forward and speak to us about the offences committed against them.
“We hope the severity of the sentence given by the court shows how seriously offences like this are treated.
“Protecting young members of our society from predatory behaviour like this is one of our top priorities.
“Our message to all victims of sexual offences is that we’ll always listen to you, so please find the courage to come and speak to us so we can bring offenders like Bradley Alford to justice.”
A spokesperson for the NSPCC South West England added: “In attempting to meet what he thought was a child, Alford has shown himself to be a serious danger to children and it is right that he has now faced the courts for his actions.
“To help tackle the growing problem of online child abuse imagery, the NSPCC is calling on tech companies, government and law enforcement agencies to eradicate this growing issue at its source.”
Any adult worried about a child can call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000. Help for children and young people is available from Childline on 0800 1111.