Charity worker tried to meet young boy for sex after Grindr grooming

Newcastle Crown Court
Newcastle Crown Court

A charity worker told police "I'm bloody guilty" after paedophile hunters filmed him trying to meet a young boy for sex.

David Walker-Shears, of Argyle Square, Sunderland, believed he was chatting to a 15-year-old called Ryan when sent the youngster a message which read: "I want you in my bed so much."

However, the twisted 58-year-old was gobsmacked when he went to meet the teenager and instead came face to face with undercover organisation Guardians of the North.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how the defendant, who had been in an open relationship with his partner for a number of years, joined Grindr to look for new sexual partners.

Prosecutor Lee Fish said: "Guardians of the North set up a fake profile on the social media site Grindr - it was a boy called Ryan.

"There was a photograph of a teenage boy. The conversation that followed between the defendant and Ryan, in inverted commas, very swiftly moved towards a sexual manner.

"Very early in the conversation it was made very clear that Ryan was 15 years old."

Mr Fish told the court how Walker-Shears, who did charity work for the Rainbow foundation, sent the decoy profile a picture of his penis and quickly arranged to meet him for sexual activity.

However, when the defendant went to meet the child, he was snared by the vigilante group and detained until the police arrived.

Mr Fish added: "The first thing he said to the police was 'I have been really stupid'.

"He declined legal representation and when asked why he said 'because I'm bloody guilty'

"He realised that he should not have engaged in the conversation and said that he had never done this before.

"There was a grooming behaviour."

Walker-Shears, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to incite a child under the age of 16 in sexual activity.

In mitigation, Jenny Coxon said: "This defendant fully accepts his behaviour.


He made full admissions in interview and he entered a guilty plea.

"What can be said for Mr Walker-Shears is that he is a 58-year-old man who has been in a stable relationship.

"He was in an open relationship that allows him to find other partners in ways such as Grindr.

"After this they had a conversation and are no longer in an open relationship.

"Now that he is in a monogamous relationship, he will no longer seek that out.

"He is an active member of supporting the LGBT community through charity work that he does.

"There is clearly work that can be done to prevent re-offending of this kind but it is very unlikely that this defendant will be in front of the court again."

It is understood Mr Walker-Shears was a trustee for the Rainbow Trust, a charity which supports the LGBT community on Wearside. The Trust has been contacted for a comment but is yet to respond and it is not known whether or not he still carries out work for the organisation.

Sentencing him to a three year community order, Judge Tim Gittins said: "You are 58 years old and of previous good character.

"It is tragic to see a man who has worked hard to come before the court at that age for something of this gravity.

"You had for many years a stable but open relationship with your partner.

"The website Grindr is to allow like minded homosexuals to contact each other. That is no concern for the court but in early June of this year you contacted a
profile almost straight after it had been set up.

"You made it clear that you wanted penetrative sex with him.

"When you arrived you were met not by a willing 15-year-old but Guardians of the North.

"It will have came as a deep shock to you that you were taken in by the profile.

"You have to realised the seriousness of your actions and you wish to work with the probation service."

Walker-Shears was also given a sexual harm prevention order and must sign the seX offenders register for 10 years.