Weston medic jailed for using dating apps to groom young girls for sex

David Cardwell.

David Cardwell. - Credit: Archant

A St John Ambulance volunteer from Weston will serve 11 months in prison for grooming underage girls for sex.

David Cardwell, aged 52, of Sunnyside Road, pleaded guilty to three counts of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child at Bristol Crown Court in May.

Cardwell, an NHS agency worker, was caught out by paedophile hunters who were posing as girls aged 12-14.

More: NHS worker from Weston admits using dating app to groom underage girls.

More than 1,214 explicit cartoon images 'of the very worst kind' involving children and babies were also found on his computer.

Judge Mark Horton, sentencing Cardwell at Bristol Crown Court on Friday, said: "There was grooming and sexualised conversations, including a discussion about meeting in Bristol for a sleepover and about how you would show her how to have sex."

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Cardwell made contact with the 'girls' over a dating app before encouraging them to use WhatsApp and Kik so their conversations could be deleted.

Robin Shellard, prosecuting, said the 'decoys' never made first contact and all stated their age in the first communication.

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Cardwell told the paedophile hunters he preferred young girls and asked them to send him pictures of themselves.

Police, after his arrest, found images of other unidentified girls of a similar age in his possession.

The court was told Cardwell has lost his family, house and job, and has been suffering from suicidal thoughts since his arrest.

The medic, who has worked in the operating department at Weston and Bristol hospitals, volunteered with St John Ambulance and the Air Training Corps and also ran basic first aid courses for children.

Judge Horton said: "Since these events the internet has taken its revenge on you and your family in a way which society would say is deserved, but is as personally crushing for you as it would be for families if these young girls had really been approached by you in the way you intended.

"There's no substantial remorse one would expect for the gravity of offence and no comprehension of the seriousness of the impact of this offending."

Cardwell was sentenced to 11 months in prison, followed by a 12-month supervision order.

He was ordered to sign the sexual offenders register for 10 years and given a sexual harm prevention order.

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