A man from East Sussex has been found guilty of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a minor over the internet.
Guildford Crown Court trial, which commenced on December 18, concluded with the conviction of Damien Gibbons, formerly known as Damien Cotgreave, aged 48 from High Street, Hailsham. He was charged with attempting online sexual communication with a child.
POLIT crime investigator Michelle Shepherd said: “Cotgreave thought he was talking to a 13-year old girl, and engaged in very explicit sexual conversation, but he was in fact talking to an adult member of the public who reported their concerns to the police, and we immediately took action to arrest him and ensure no actual child could come to harm.”We will always take action on such reports and anyone who has suspicions about this type of activity should contact the police immediately.”
At the time of his arrest in February 2020, Cotgreave was serving as a Detective Constable in Sussex Police. He was suspended following his arrest. In a separate public misconduct hearing held in January 2021, he was found to have breached multiple professional standards based on evidence unrelated to the current prosecution. Cotgreave had resigned, but it was determined he would have been dismissed from the force.
Following the misconduct findings, he has been added to the College of Policing Barred and Advisory list, effectively preventing him from re-entering law enforcement. This disciplinary action stemmed from information uncovered during the criminal investigation by the Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) of Sussex Police, which began after receiving a tip from the public in February 2020.
Gibbons was later charged in April 2021 and has now received a one-year suspended prison sentence along with a five-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO), which imposes strict restrictions on his access to children and computers.