Met counter terror officer who tried to meet 'girl, 13,' for sex gets just five and a half years
A MET Police counter terrorism officer found guilty of three child sex offences after he tried to meet who he thought was a thirteen-year-old girl in a park when he should have been working from home has been jailed for just five and a half years.
Detective constable Francois Olwage, 52, could be out in under three years after being jailed today at Winchester Crown Court.
Olwage was investigated by Hertfordshire Police in an undercover sting after intelligence exposed concerns about his online activities.
A force spokesman said: "We were responding to intelligence that exposed him as an online chatroom user of concern.”
His earlier trial heard that after chatting to an undercover officer who he believed was a 13-year-old girl, he had booked a flat for the night in Basingstoke and turned up with condoms, lubricant and pills for erectile dysfunction.
He had been exchanging sexually explicit messages with who he believed was a schoolgirl, but was in fact an undercover police officer carrying out a sting operation, the court heard.
Mr Olwage, from Stevenage, Hertfordshire, who joined the police in 2006, had denied the offences, including attempting to meet a 13-year-old child after ‘grooming’ her online.
He admitted one count of police corruption at the start of the trial as he should have been working from home - an offence of improperly exercising his police powers and privileges in order to receive the benefit of sexual gratification.
A Herts Police spokesman said: "the officer went off to meet this girl while technically on duty working from home."
He was arrested by undercover detectives in a McDonald's restaurant as he ordered a a McFlurry for the "13-year-old child" he believed he was about to meet after grooming her on 29 October 2021., the court heard.
The court heard Olwage, who has been suspended from the force, met "the girl" with the profile Smile Bear on the Lycos online forum before the conversation moved to WhatsApp where she gave the name of Caitlin.
There were two weeks of messages, including some with explicit sexual content, in October 2021, before Olwage arranged to meet her in a park in Basingstoke, Hampshire, where she said she lived, the court heard.
Messages between the two were read out to the jury, including one in which he said: "Because of your age, things can go very wrong for us, I could be breaking the law, lose my job, social services be called.
"I do not want any of that for us so we can't meet tomorrow for anything sexual so it can only be about us meeting to chat and spending time together."
He also said: "It is crazy what we are doing. I shouldn't be encouraging you to meet strange men off the internet. I'm not strange, but there are strange people out there."
But he also asked questions about what she was wearing under her dressing gown and whether she had ever drunk alcohol before.
A recorded phone call between him and a female officer was also played in which he suggested he could stay somewhere overnight, so they could have more time together if they "liked each other."
The court heard Olwage travelled to Basingstoke, where he had booked a flat for the night, by train.
The undercover officer asked him if he would bring her an Oreo McFlurry and he stopped at a local McDonald's, ordering from a self-service machine.
As he did so, two undercover officers, who had been sent images of the suspect, donned police-issue baseball caps and moved in to arrest him, one seizing his mobile phone, for which Olwage provided the pin.
The officers found two condoms, a bottle of lubricant and a packet of Tadalafil erectile dysfunction tablets in his bag when they searched him.
He also had a box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates, which the prosecution suggested was a present for the girl.
Olwage provided a prepared statement for interviewing officers from Hertfordshire Police.
In it, he said that he believed the person he was about to meet was an adult who had been living out a roleplaying fetish about being an underage girl.
He said: "I first made contact via Lycos, with a person I at all times believed was an adult fantasising about being 13. The profile said 18 and there are a lot of fake profiles on Lycos."
He said he felt a connection with her on Lycos and considered her claim to be 13 a fantasy role play that did not turn him on, but he was aroused by the notion of it turning her on.
He said he considered it a fetish and it was obvious he was speaking to an adult and then when they spoke on the phone it was clear it was an adult pretending to be a young girl.
He denied having a sexual interest in children and denied the meeting would involve sexual activity, saying that he would always travel with the condoms and other contents.
He refused to answer any other questions.
He was charged with attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child contrary to Section 1, Criminal Attempts Act 1981; attempting to cause / incite a girl 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity (penetration), contrary to Section 1, Criminal Attempts Act 1981 and attempting to meet a girl under 16 years of age following grooming, contrary to Section 15 Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Peter Shaw, prosecuting, said: ‘He attempted to arrange to meet a 13-year-old in order to have sexual intercourse with her, this sexual intercourse was expected to take place in a flat in Basingstoke town centre.
"The plan would involve the defendant travelling to Basingstoke – unbeknownst to him the communication he had with the person he thought to be a 13-year-old girl was in fact with an undercover police officer."
The jury heard Olwage asked about her underwear, described her as ‘cute’ and ‘sexy’, and said: ‘I don’t think your mum will like this chat.’
The jury today (April 14 2022) found him guilty of all three offences.
He will now face Met Police misconduct proceedings, the force said.
Detective Chief Superintendent Donna Smith, of the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards, said: “These are appalling crimes, and the fact that these crimes were committed by a police officer makes them all the more deplorable.
“It goes without saying that officers who behave like Olwage have no place in the Metropolitan Police Service. His offending is deeply disturbing and shocking, and he has now rightly been brought to justice thanks to an investigation by colleagues from Hertfordshire Police.”
Jailing him for five-and-a-half years today, Judge Jane Miller QC said: "As a police officer your conduct should have been expected to be of impeccable standards. "The public expects to have faith in police officers and their integrity. "By intending to take sexual advantage of a child you showed total disregard for your office. "By the fifth day you told her that you wanted chat about sex. You told her what you wanted to do with her and how she would enjoy it. "We saw over 130 images of over 130 texts and heard two phone calls between you and an undercover police officer pretending to be Caitlin. "We saw you suggesting you go to Basingstoke and we know you had booked a hotel room for the night. "You asked Caitlin to stay longer. You asked her for dinner and told her about being with her the next morning. "You were in McDonald's when you were arrested and buying a McFlurry ice cream that Caitlin had requested.
"When searched, the officers found in his bag two condoms, a bottle of lubricant and a packet of Tadalafil erectile disfunction tablets." Olwage was convicted of attempted sexual communication with a child, attempting to cause/incite a girl aged 13 to engage in sexual activity, and attempting to meet a girl under the age of 16 following grooming. The judge ordered the jury to find him not guilty of arranging/facilitating the commission of a child sex offence. Defence barrister Adrienne Knight told the court that at the time of the offences Olwage was under extreme stress as he had just been through a messy divorce after his wife became pregnant with another man's child.
Following Olwage’s arrest, the matter was referred by the Met to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
The IOPC determined that a local investigation be carried out by the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards, and now he has been convicted, a date will be set as soon as possible for the accelerated misconduct hearing.