A GOVERNMENT adviser caught trying to find a 13-year-old ‘girlfriend’ online told the police he had been ‘very silly’.

International development consultant Peter Davis, who changed his name to 'James Robert Harris' in January, was sentenced under that name at Oxford Crown Court today for two counts of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child. 

The 52-year-old of East Street, Fritwell, near Bicester, is understood to have done work for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development.

Messages were read out by Alex Bull, prosecuting, of two exchanges between Harris and undercover police officers pretending to be 13-year-old girls.

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The first took place in May 2017, with Davis exchanging messages on site ChatAvenue.com with an officer using the name ‘Livvy’ and told her he was ‘looking for a girlfriend’.

When she brought up she was 13 and asked if that was too young he responded: “Not at all, 13 would be the perfect girlfriend age.”

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He asked her to share pictures of herself and shared ones he claimed were of himself but were in fact downloaded from the internet.

Further messages were exchanged with another officer under the name ‘Chelsea’ in October 2017 via the same site with him suggesting getting her a ring so she could ‘pretend to be his teen wife’ and he could get a cottage for them to meet in.

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He also asked for ‘naughty pics’ of her.

Michael Phillips, in mitigation, said the international development worker regularly ‘put his life at risk’ as part of his career, and had been frequently travelling to northern Nigeria for work during the offences.

He added that when Davis was arrested in November 2017 it had come ‘as a relief’ and he had admitted the offences straight away to police.

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Ms Bull said Davis had told police he had been living out a ‘fantasy’ online, adding: “I have been very silly. Time is a killer.”

The court also heard Davis had changed his name in January via deed poll to James Harris.

Judge Ian Pringle, below, said the character references he had seen for Davis were ‘some of the most compelling I’ve ever read’.

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Sentencing him to a two-year community order he said the case was ‘extraordinary’ and he had to weigh up the lack of previous offences against the explicit content of the messages.

He will also be subject to a sexual harm order for five years, pay costs of £340 and complete 180 hours unpaid work within the next 12 months.