A Frenchman who flew to the UK thinking he was going to sexually abuse a 12-year-old girl asked investigators who caught him: “What am I likely to get for this?”
National Crime Agency officers arrested Mathieu Hilaire, 29, near a café in south east England on 10 December last year as he waited to meet someone he thought was a 12-year-old girl.
NCA officers were waiting for him, and when arrested, Hilaire said: “Yes. Yes, ok, what am I likely to get for this?”
He admitted meeting a child following sexual grooming and today at Southwark Crown Court was given a 16-month sentence suspended for two years by judge Jeffrey Pegden QC.
The software developer had begun chatting on an instant messaging app to what he thought was a young schoolgirl in November last year.
Within a few weeks his conversations had become sexually explicit and he plotted to coincide a UK business trip with a chance to meet the ‘girl’.
Hilaire, who lived in Gzira, near Valletta in Malta but plans to move to Cambridgeshire, flew to the UK after repeatedly being told the ‘girl’ was 12.
He changed his flight plans to secure the meeting, booked accommodation close to where he thought she lived and even suggested picking her up from school.
Hilaire said he was worried about being seen by a teacher or someone who knew her and that he was concerned about being caught. He even said he was worried about going to prison if caught.
His intention was to take the child in a car he had hired to an address where he intended to abuse her.
Malta's vice squad searched Hilaire's address and seized his media devices for forensic examination.
Today he was referred to a rehabilitation course and ordered to pay £200 costs.
He was given a 10-year sexual harm prevention order restricting his internet use.
Martin Ludlow, NCA operations manager, said: “Hilaire’s sexual interest in children is clear to see.
“Not only was he talking to someone he thought was a young, vulnerable girl, but he actually changed his travel plans to carry out child sexual abuse.
“There is no greater priority for the NCA than protecting children.”
7 February 2020