Met Detective, 58, jailed for trying to send girl, 13, 'highly sexualised' messages

30 April 2021, 18:30

Mark Collins was jailed for two years and four months
Mark Collins was jailed for two years and four months. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A Metropolitan Police officer has been jailed for more than two years after trying to send "highly sexualised" messages to a 13-year-old girl.

Detective Constable Mark Collins, 58, from Fleet, Hampshire, was caught in an undercover sting operation nearly 18 months ago.

On Friday, he admitted one count of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity and six counts of attempting to engage in sexual communications with a child.

During the sting operation, which took place in November 2019, Collins believed he was messaging a 13-year-old girl when he sent illicit images of himself via the Kik Messenger app, the Old Bailey heard

The policeman spoke about her "body developing", talked about "naughty urges" and discussed "being horny".

In the messages, which he sent while on holiday in Malta, he said the conversations should be deleted.

However, the person he was communicating with was in fact an undercover officer.

The 58-year-old, who joined the Met in 1991, was arrested at work in Bromley police station on 26 November that year.

Some of the messages appeared to be sent when Collins was on duty, according to his shift pattern, the court heard.

However, prosecutor David Povall said it could not be proved to the criminal standard.

Jailing him for two years and four months on Friday, Judge Mark Lucraft QC described the messages as being of a "highly sexualised nature".

"It is clear many of the messages you sent are explicit, setting out what you were imagining, your sexual feelings towards her naked body," the judge said.

"It is clear from the content and tone that the messages were sent for the purposes of obtaining sexual gratification."

Collins, who resigned from the force after his arrest, was found to have committed gross misconduct at a disciplinary hearing last week and the force said he would have been sacked if he were still a serving officer.

Karen Robinson, defending, said the father-of-two's offending had "no connection to his role or his duties as a police officer".

"It is, for someone who held his position, a spectacular fall from grace," she said.

"He must live with the shame and indignity his conduct has brought upon himself and others."