A FORMER police officer chatted online about trying to rape an 11-year-old girl.

Sussex Police Detective Inspector Dominic O’Brien had already resigned from the force after he was accused of sending sexually explicit text messages to the 14-year-old daughter of a murder victim in 2006.

But O’Brien started talking to someone he thought was the mother of an 11-year-old on an online chatroom.

Lewes Crown Court was told yesterday that O’Brien, 52, of Rosemary Avenue, Steyning, was clearly aroused as he discussed his sexual desires towards the child.

But he was in fact talking to an undercover police officer and he was traced through his computer’s IP address and arrested.

After admitting attempting to publish an obscene article, O’Brien was given a six-month suspended jail sentence. Judge Mark Van Der Zwart allowed him to walk free from the court saying he could not hold the previous allegations against him after police officers were unable to find the paperwork from the original investigation.

Richard Barton, prosecuting, said: “Leicestershire Police was undertaking an operation of using operatives to engage in conversations online. On August 30, 2017, an operative using the name Mummy G and Tracy started a chat with a person giving the name as Dom.

“The operative said she was a 32-year-old woman with an 11-year-old daughter. This defendant was quoted as saying he was ‘into young’.

“There was a sexual conversation in explicit terms about what he wished to do with the 11-year-old daughter. He said he preferred girls a little bit older, girls 14 to 15.

“He was clearly sexually aroused. An aggravating feature of this is that in 2006 he was a detective inspector with Sussex Police engaged in investigating a murder.

“As part of his role he came into contact with that man’s widow and daughter who was 14 at the time turning 15.

“He entered into sexual exchanges with both mother and daughter.

“He was using explicit language about sexual things he would like to do with that 15-year-old girl.

“The widow took the story to a Sunday newspaper and a disciplinary process was started.

“He resigned before there were any formal findings against him.

“The prosecution say this was a strikingly similar behaviour.”

At the time of the 2017 offence O'Brien was working for Adur and Worthing councils. He left the council in January 2018.

Asked by the judge about the earlier allegations, Mr Barton said: “It is the Crown’s case that he did send those messages and the officer in this case has attempted to access the papers but has been unable to locate them.”

David Osborne, defending, said O’Brien’s actions were a “matter of great shame and embarrassment to him” and he had already begun counselling for his behaviour.

The judge said: “You engaged in an online chat with a person you believed to be the mother of an 11-year-old girl. You told her you wanted to meet her daughter and told her precisely how you wanted to engage in sexual activity with her, effectively to rape a child.

“You pleaded guilty to the fact that it was not mere fantasy to start with.”

O’Brien’s sentence has been suspended for 18 months.

He will have to complete 20 days of rehabilitation and 200 hours of unpaid work.

He was also ordered to pay £450 prosecution costs.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “In relation to our internal police investigation of O’Brien in 2006/7, records including the full police report of the investigation into O’Brien, the full police interview with him under caution, and the full disciplinary papers which had been prepared prior to his resignation, were all retained electronically and were available to Sussex Police Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) investigators in 2017.

“Any other paper-only material would have been routinely deleted as per national police guidelines.”