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Depraved paedophiles will face life behind bars for arranging sex offences with a child even if no child actually exists under new laws.
Judges will now sentence the twisted offenders based on the intended harm to a child – even if no sexual activity ever took place.
It means so-called “sting” operations, in which offenders believe they are talking to a kid online when it is actually a cop or vigilante, will have more impact during sentencing at court.
The legal changes have been set out by the Sentencing Council as part of plans to keep children safer online.
Judge Rosa Dean, who sits on the council, said the move would bring “greater clarity” to courts when they’re trying to deal with paedophiles in cases where no child actually exists.
She explained: “Judges and magistrates will impose sentences that reflect the intended harm to the child, even where that activity does not ultimately take place, to protect children from people planning to cause them sexual harm.”
The new guidelines cover the vile offence of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence.
If the rape of a kid under 12-years-old is planned, the twisted paedophile can expect to be locked up for life.
Another offence covered in the new law is causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, which can now be punished by up to 14 years in jail even if the crime does not take place and no child exists.
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It comes after four defendants who had travelled to meet fictional children as young as six-years-old, created as part of a police operation, argued they should face a lower sentence.
The sex offenders went to the Court of Appeal but judges argued they should be convicted on the level of harm intended.
New guidelines also mean predators who groom underage kids online can be sentenced to two years in a prison cell.
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