Bradford Crown Court
Bradford Crown Court. Wikimedia Commons

A former administrator of Bradford's Safeguarding Children Board has been sentenced to five years' jail for attempting to meet children for sex and distributing indecent images of under 18s.

Along with his role at the leading child safety agency, 50-year-old Heathcliffe Bowen had also served on Ikley Parish Council for 18 years.

Bradford Crown Court had heard how Bowen had engaged young teenage men in conversation on Skype with a prosecutor saying that one conversation with a 15-year-old made it "obvious that they were regularly meeting up for sex, for which sometimes the defendant paid".

Other conversations reported by the Bradford Telegraph and Argus included Bowen telling someone who said they were a boy in Year 8 that they could have unprotected sex and suggesting he take the virginity of a 12-year-old.

Along with the conversations, Bowen also performed a sex act on webcam to a 15-year-old. Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC, the Recorder of Bradford, said that Bowen had given "every appearance of being a pillar of society" while engaging in "depraved paedophilic activity".

"You have never shown any shame of remorse for these matters," Durham Hall said. "The gravity in this case is the quantity of offending."

Bowen was convicted on three counts of attempting to engage a child in sexual activity and three other similar charges. He also admitted possessing indecent images of children.

Bowen's defence said that he had suppressed his sexuality for most of his life and the online chats were not meant to become reality, instead they acted as a fantasy to escape a stressful life.

The judge rejected this though, saying instead: "The opposite could not have been more true. You were working very hard to engage in penetrative sexual activity with people under 16."

Bowen was also ordered to register as a sex offender and put under an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.