Posted: 22.02.21 at 23:53 by The Editor
A CHANNEL Four documentary aired this evening (Monday, 22 February) detailed the investigation into the tracking, identification and arrest of a child sex offender from Basildon who was caught grooming a ‘14-year-old boy from Grays' for sex.
The boy was actually a police officer who is part of a team trying to catch nationwide sex offenders and after the case against 40-year-old Denis Sweeney was taken to court the officer expressed his disappointment after Basildon Crown Court judge Samantha Leigh let him walk free from court with a community order.
Sweeny, of Church Road, who TV programme 'Undercover Police: Hunting Paedophiles' revealed had been linked with other potential child sex offences, appeared before Judge Leigh in December 2019. He had groomed the fictional youngster via a gay sex website for three weeks before arranging the meeting, at which he was arrested in May 2019.
The case was reported by the Basildon Echo which reported mitigation for Sweeney which said he was remorseful for his actions and that it was an isolated incident. The court heard Judge Leigh was also told that Sweeney was due to be moving in with a family with a child.
Due to his six months of time already served, and so that he could complete a rehabilitation course, Judge Leigh chose to give Sweeney a community order. She told him: “What I’m going to do is exceptional because it would have been a sentence of 18 months.
“This order will be a direct alternative to sentence. If you breach this order, I will reserve the case to me, and you will be back before this court, and you will go to prison.”
The decision shocked police officers featured in the TV programme who believed they had built up a case that justified strong punishment, with graphic evidence of Sweeny’s intentions to have sex with the boy – who he believed had caught a 100 bus from Grays to meet him at Basildon bus station, where Sweeny was arrested.
The officer who had led the investigation said: ”I can’t think of a worse crime than he was going to commit. To give a non-custodial sentence is madness”.
Sweeny is the second person on the hard-hitting TV fly-on-the wall series to be featured being arrested in Basildon.
In an earlier episode 37-year-old Martin Latimer from Hove, East Sussex, was filmed being arrested in the town in 2019 after another undercover sting exposed him sending sexually explicit messages to a girl who claimed to be aged 13. He sent naked photographs and videos of himself performing sexual acts and planned to meet up with the girl, who in reality was also a police officer.
Latimer booked and paid for a bed and breakfast and travelled to Basildon by train carrying a bag containing sex toys, chocolate and an unopened packet of girls’ underwear. He was arrested on arrival and when he appeared before Basildon Crown Court he was jailed for three years.