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Pedophile caught with children’s underwear in his boot during encounter with ’11-year-old girl’

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A social media cyber groomer traveled to Widnes with children’s underwear in the trunk to meet an ’11-year-old girl’.

Ethan Birch, 20, turned up at the DCBL stadium car park on Lower House Lane, Widnes, on Friday January 21 wearing ‘cropped breeches and tops’ and a change of boxer shorts for himself after 10 days of messages online, including sexual incitement and sending obscene images of himself.

Unbeknownst to Birch, of Little Lowes Meadow, Lowton, Warrington, the supposed child was actually an adult decoy to ensnare pedophiles preying on young people online.

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Liverpool Crown Court heard on Thursday how Birch first contacted the ‘girl’ on the ‘Chat Avenue’ social media platform – aimed at ‘nine to 19’ year olds – before the conversation went ahead to WhatsApp.

The apparent child told him she was 11 and in foster care, but that didn’t deter pedophile Birch who asked her not to block him if he divulged his age.

He then told her his name, age, place of residence and occupation using his own contact details and would later share his phone number.

After first asking her “how are you?” he told her she was “beautiful” and asked if she “liked” her.

As well as offering to help her with her math homework, he told her “I want to do something naughty together” and asked to see her underwear – which became a theme as he did “numerous” requests for such photos despite his refusals.

The sexual nature of his posts continued to escalate, with him sharing a selfie of himself in his boxers.

Mr Jones said that as the grooming continued, Birch used ‘manipulative language’, such as telling him not to tell anyone about him and asking ‘do you want to make me happy? “

He started asking intimate personal questions and tried to ‘teach’ her how to perform a sex act on herself, saying she was his ‘girlfriend and that meant she would have to show him her underwear “.

When she asked why he was “asking” her, college student Birch replied, “I’m telling you because you’re my girlfriend.”

He then sent a photo of his naked genitals and a video of him performing a sex act.



Birch wanted to meet his victim in the parking lot of Widnes Rugby Stadium.

Birch said he “loved her” and would “never leave her” before moving on to sexual demands, especially of a penetrative nature.

The decoy impersonating the child told him, “Please don’t ask, it’s scary to do that.”

They started talking about meeting at McDonald’s in Widnes.

Despite a moment of apparent contrition when he said they couldn’t meet because of ‘how bad his actions were’ and that he ‘shouldn’t talk like that to anyone under 18 years”, he returned to form and continued with a plan to meet in the parking lot of “Widnes rugby league club”.

When Birch arrived, adults from a group called “Cobra UK” confronted Birch and called Cheshire Police, who arrived and arrested him.

Mr Jones said officers searched the boot of his car and found “girls’ underwear, I understand ages 12 to 14: a few pairs of panties and crop tops as well as a pair of underwear – clean clothes that appeared to be his.

Birch gave “no comment” answers during police questioning, but later pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity to 10 counts: five counts of attempting to get a child to engaging in sexual activity, two of attempting to get a child to watch a sexual act, attempting to meet a child following grooming, attempting sexual communication with a child, and attempting to get a child to engage in sexual communication.

David Morton, defending, said his client pleaded guilty to all cases at the first opportunity without “messing around, without trickery, without merit”, in addition to the absence of previous convictions of Birch as a man of “good positive character”.



A general view of Liverpool Crown Court
Liverpool Crown Court

He said Birch wanted to “live a law-abiding life in the future” and had “no entrenched criminal views”, but that he was “going to need help and assistance” and that he realized that “the intervention will be difficult, and he is prepared”.

Mr Morton said Birch was ‘extremely brilliant’, had expressed remorse, regret and shame, and after three and a half months at HMP Altcourse was ‘totally determined’ to ‘never visit a Crown court again “.

A psychological report stated that Birch exhibited the traits of being “avoidant and dependent”.

Mr Morton urged the judge to consider suspending any jail time to allow for rehabilitation to protect the public.

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Judge Brian Cummings, QC wondered how this could happen given that the sentencing ranges available for the most serious counts far exceeded the two-year maximum to allow for a non-immediate sentence, citing the recent case law which granted only a “small” reduction. for grooming offenses involving adult decoys that had progressed so far.

The judge made largely technical summary remarks and sentenced Birch to four years and eight months in a young offenders institute, and placed him on the sex offenders register with a sexual abuse prevention order to run indefinitely. , i.e. lifetime pending no successful application to lift the restrictions.

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He said Birch’s activities didn’t end because he decided to quit, but “it was more when you tried to meet the person you communicated with online.”

Judge Cummings said Birch believed he had already tricked the “girl” into engaging in sexual activity before she was caught.

Birch, who appeared via video link from jail for the hearing, must also pay a statutory surcharge.