Pervert policeman groomed teen girls online as disgusted wife finally speaks out

The wife of a pervert police office jailed for grooming young girls claimed she was "naive" to be "manipulated" by her husband, who claimed he did not know how old his victims were.

Humberside Police officer Gareth Richards was jailed after he pretended to be a teenager to share sexually explicit messages with girls aged 14 and 15 and getting them to send him nude photos of themselves between September 2016 and March 2017.

His wife issued a character reference in his defence but only did so because she was "manipulated" by Richards, Hull Live reports.

Richards, 36, told here that he did not know how old the girls were, despite the court hearing their online profile images clearly showed their youth and some of their usernames included 2001 or 01, indicating their year of birth.

His wife is adamant she is not standing by or supporting him. She said: "The character reference was based on what I knew, what he told me, not anything else. I was not privy to any official information.

"I kept asking him about the charges and I had to do my own digging – he was never very specific and I just trusted him. I feel stupid.

"Gareth lied to me throughout the process and I was very naive.

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"Gareth doesn't take responsibility for what he's done, he think that it's my fault because I wasn't loving enough."

Richards, from Brocklesby, North Lincs, was jailed at Hull Crown Court for five years and four months.

Prosecutor Gerald Hendron told the court he said in a message to one of his victims: "Are you really 15? Doesn't matter if you are."

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But after being charged, Richards told his wife in messages: "There is no way I knew that the people were underage whatsoever!"

His wife added: "I did not know the extent of his acts – if I knew I would not have stood by him."

Richards will have to serve half of his sentence in jail before being released on licence, and he will have to register as a sex offender.

A spokeswoman for Humberside Police confirmed the matter will be passed on to the force's Professional Standards Department now the court proceedings have concluded.

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