Northern Ireland

Man travelled to Belfast to meet who he believed was 13-year-old girl before being arrested in police sting

Anil Patel pleaded guilty to offences committed last year.

Geraldine Hanna said many victims were waiting years for their cases to get to court
Belfast's Laganside Courts. (Liam McBurney/PA)

A 31-year-old man from London has pleaded guilty to child sex offences after travelling to Belfast to meet who he believed to be a 13-year-old girl.

Anil Patel, from Great West Road in the Hammersmith area of west London was detained by detectives from the PSNI’s Public Protection Branch on July 13 last year.

Patel had been communicating with undercover officers posing as a teenage girl from June 27 before he was arrested in Belfast’s York Street area.

He appeared at Laganside Court on February 21 and pleaded guilty to attempted sexual communication with a child, arranging the commission of a child sex offence and possessing extreme pornography of children.

He will be sentenced at Laganside Courts at a later date.

Detective Inspector Richard Vasey from the PSNI’s Child Internet Protection Team said: “Anil Patel had travelled from London to Belfast attempting to meet what he thought was a 13 year old girl, however, he had actually been communicating with our undercover police officers. He sent explicit messages to the person he had met online and talked about meeting in real life.

“I want to send a strong message today that my team are working around the clock to identify and bring people before the courts who think their online offending can go undetected.

“It is our absolute priority to protect and keep children safe in our communities and we will continue to proactively target those who contribute to the cycle of child abuse. I would encourage anyone with concerns or information to get in contact us on 101 or 999 in an emergency. We will act on the information we receive.”