University lecturer caught by paedophile hunters after asking girl for ‘kiss and cuddle’
A senior lecturer at the University of Hull sent messages to a person he believed to be a 13-year-old girl asking for a ‘kiss and cuddle’.
But Sunil Shastri, who told her he would ‘go to jail’ if they met, was in fact talking to a member of paedophile hunting group Guardians of the North.
The 62-year-old was arrested when the group passed his details on to police, and has resigned from his post as the university’s senior lecturer in Biological and Environmental Science.
He has now been spared jail after he pleaded guilty to attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.
Shastri, a married father-of-one, sent sexually explicit messages despite knowing that he was talking to an underage girl.
He asked for photos of her in her underwear and messaged the girl about sexual acts, York Crown Court heard.
Prosecutor Ashleigh Metcalfe said Shastri’s behaviour over the two-week period was tantamount to ‘grooming’ the teenager.
In one of the messages, Shastri told the girl: ‘I would (meet you) but it’s dangerous. You are 13 and I’ll go to jail.’
Ms Metcalfe said Shastri, a highly acclaimed oceanographer, would ask what the girl was wearing and for ‘head-to-toe’ pictures of herself in the underwear.
After receiving a clothed photo of her, he replied: ‘Beautiful girl! Show me more please honey. You are a cheeky, naughty girl xxx.’
He asked her if she liked older men and whether she thought she’d grow up to be ‘shapely’, adding: ‘Have you had a lover? Would you like me to cuddle and kiss you?’
Taryn Turner, defending, noted a ‘raft’ of testimonials from distinguished professionals that attested to Shastri’s previously blame-free life.
Mr Turner said: ‘His fall from grace has been spectacular. He had a stellar career within the world of universities and, ironically, has done much to support many young people over the course of his professional career.’
Recorder John Thackray gave Shastri, of Philip Larkin Close, off Inglemire Lane, Hull, a four-month jail sentence, but suspended this for two years because he was a ‘hard-working family man’ who posed a ‘very low risk’ of re-offending and had shown remorse for his ‘disgraceful’ behaviour.
Shastri will also undergo 10 days’ rehabilitation and take part in a sex-offenders’ treatment programme. He was also ordered to sign on the sex-offenders’ register for seven years.
A University of Hull spokesperson said: ‘This individual is no longer a member of staff at the University and therefore it would be inappropriate to comment.’