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Children’s author jailed for trying to groom underage girl

A children’s author who lectured at a university has been jailed after attempting to sexually groom a police officer posing as an underage girl.

Ashley Lloyd Smith, 45, sent explicit messages to ‘Sophie’, who told him she was under 16.

Lloyd Smith contacted ‘Sophie’ in April 2019 and asked her if he could touch himself sexually while she watched, Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court was told.

The father-of-one describes himself on his website as ‘an award-winning writer, director and actor’ who has penned ‘a number of children’s novels, based on stories he has told his son and friends’.

His first published novel is ‘about a man who murders his wife, regrets it and searches for salvation’, the website adds.

He claims to have co-founded a ‘Writing for Children Writers Group’ at Derby’s QUAD cultural centre and to have lectured at the University of Derby.

Lloyd Smith pleaded guilty to intentionally communicating with a person under 16 for the purposes of obtaining sexual gratification and was sentenced to 26 weeks’ jail.

Magistrates’ described his offence as ‘disgusting, depraved and aggravated by the location of the offence and his concerted efforts to avoid detection’.

He was ordered to pay a £122 victim surcharge and sign the sex offenders’ register for seven years.

A spokesperson for the University of Derby said: ‘The individual in question is no longer an employee of the University and this was the case before the outcome of the prosecution was known.

‘The University takes a zero tolerance approach to behaviour such as this and any members of staff proven to be involved in conduct of this nature would be subject to the strongest possible disciplinary action.

‘The University takes the health, safety and well being of its staff and students extremely seriously and has a number of safeguarding measures in place to help mitigate the risk against this sort of incident.’

A spokesperson for QUAD said Lloyd Smith ran a short course for adult writers in the past but that no children were ever present.

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