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'Cannibal' jailed for grooming girl

An NHS nurse dubbed "the Canterbury Cannibal", who was convicted of sexual grooming after plotting to behead and eat a girl, has been jailed for nine years.

Dale Bolinger, 58, bought an axe from a DIY store in Broadstairs, Kent, the day before he tried to meet the 14-year-old, whom he groomed online.

He chatted with the teenager, a Mexican girl called "Eva" said to be living in Germany, on a website called the Dark Fetish Network (DFN).

In conversations, Bolinger described sex acts he wanted to perform on her and how he would murder her, which she said she wanted to happen.

After a four-day trial at Canterbury Crown Court in July, Bolinger was found guilty of attempting to meet a girl under the age of 16 following sexual grooming.

Before the trial, Bolinger admitted other charges, including administering a poison or noxious substance after he put a cloth soaked in dry cleaning fluid over his friend Urlene King's mouth in July 2010.

He also pleaded guilty to making indecent pseudo photographs of children, and seven counts of publishing an obscene article.

As he was jailed today for the 11 offences, a judge said his behaviour was "abhorrent, shocking and dangerous".

American national Bolinger was made the subject of a sexual offences prevention order (Sopo) to stop him using the internet without permission by judge Adele Williams, who said the case presented "a unique set of facts".

Psychiatrists ruled that Bolinger, whose family have turned their back on him, was not suffering from any form of mental illness.

Bolinger stood in the dock with his head bowed and hands clenched in front of him as Judge Williams told how he had had fantasies of cannibalism since he was a child.

Jailing Bolinger, she told him: "You demonstrated when giving evidence that you are an arrogant and manipulative man.

"You have shown no remorse and indeed cannot understand why anyone should find your behaviour in any way abnormal or perverted, let alone criminal.

"You lack any insight into your behaviour and fail to understand that right-minded people will find your behaviour abhorrent, shocking, repulsive and dangerous - dangerous because, by talking about these activities, there is always the risk that your fantasies will tip over into actions.

"There was always the real danger that you would inflame or incite people with whom you were discussing these activities to move from fantasy to action themselves."

Prosecutor Martin Yale told the trial that internet chats involving Bolinger on the DFN site about beheading and eating women and girls were discovered by the FBI in New York.

Investigators found that the email was being used in Kent and Bolinger was arrested after the information was passed to Kent Police.

In chats with other users, Bolinger - who used a picture of supermodel Naomi Campbell on his profile - claimed to have eaten a 39-year-old black woman and a five-year-old child.

His profile, under the name Chris C, listed his interests as "cannibalism, mainly the hunting and preparation of young but sometimes not so young women".

At his trial, chat logs were read out between Bolinger and users in which he referred to beheading a 14-year-old, eating children while their mothers watched, and cooking and eating a pregnant woman and her foetus.

Bolinger told the court he did not believe "Eva" - who used the surname "Gonza" but later told him it was "Nada" - was a 14-year-old girl.

He told police he thought she was probably a man in his 30s "surrounded by pizza boxes" who would be dead by his 40s. And he denied that he would ever decapitate someone in reality.

But prosecutors said it was clear that Bolinger did believe "Eva" was a 14-year-old girl, and he had bragged to others in chat logs about the proposed meeting in Kent with her.

The court heard that Bolinger had taken his fantasies beyond chat rooms before. In July 2010, he put a cloth soaked in dry cleaning fluid over friend Ms King's mouth.

Following his arrest at the hospital where he worked after the emergence of the graphic chat logs, police found at his home indecent pseudo-images of children aged four to 16 which had been digitally manipulated.

The titles for the pictures included "Dinner", "The BBQ", "The BBQ2" and "The BBQ3". Mr Yale said these pointed to Bolinger's sexual interest in cannibalism relating to children.

At his trial, Bolinger was asked by defence counsel Paul Jarvis whether he had ever attempted to kill anyone, eaten human flesh or sexually assaulted a child.

He replied: "No, not in reality, just in fantasy."

In his closing speech, Mr Jarvis said it was "quite clear that Mr Bolinger is far more Walter Mitty than Hannibal Lecter".

He added: "He is a fantasist and sometimes he goes too far and sometimes he stops, and sometimes - when the person encourages him - the fantasy continues."

The court heard that Bolinger told police he had bought the axe from Homebase to remove two tree stumps from the side of his house.

He said he had only gone to Ashford International railway station to meet "Eva" because he was concerned for her safety.

He "probably would have wet" himself if she had turned up and he would have called social services or the police, he added.

Bolinger said he visited the DFN website out of curiosity and that the people he spoke to seemed "willing to accept anything".

He told the jury: "Initially, I was looking to find people with like minds and to see where they came from, but it soon spiralled down into trying to shock people enough that they would ask 'Is this fantasy?'"

In police interview, he said he started having fantasies about cannibalism at about the age of six, and he blamed his "very domineering" mother for his "weird" behaviour.

He told officers: "By the time I got to 14, I turned into the villain of the piece and I wondered what it would be like to eat a girl."

Bolinger told police he had never discussed his fantasies with his wife of 34 years, Rosemary, or their children, and said he felt ashamed.

"It was less to do with sexual gratification and more to do with anger," he told officers. "The people that do it (cannibalism) are seriously deranged, and I may be many things but I am not deranged."

He also admitted in interview that discs found in his home containing indecent images of children were his, the jury heard.

Mr Yale said one image featured a girl aged between six and nine lying naked on a serving plate with an apple in her mouth, and others were of a similar nature.

When questioned about the images, Bolinger, formerly from Canterbury, told police: "I do not find children sexually attractive but I do find them interesting as a food source."

In mitigation today, Mr Jarvis said whoever "Eva" was "she was clearly a willing party for whatever was going to happen".

And he said that in relation to the offence against Ms King, it was Bolinger himself who stopped after he "came to his senses".

Mr Jarvis said Bolinger's family had deserted him, he faces severe difficulty ever working again and has "little to look forward to bar advancing years".

Bolinger's activities came to light during an FBI investigation into a former New York police officer who also used the online pseudonym "Meatmarketman".

Chat logs recovered by the FBI found online chats between the pair included discussions on how to kidnap women, kill and eat them.

Bolinger also bragged about having access to anaesthetic gases - a reference to his job as a hospital nurse, detectives from Kent Police said.

Detective Superintendent Tim Smith, of Kent Police, said: "There is no doubt in my mind Bolinger represents a very real and great danger to the public and I welcome the news he will spend time behind bars, preventing him from causing harm.

"On the fetish chat rooms, Bolinger used a number of names to hide his identity, but my team of officers with specialist knowledge and equipment worked closely with the FBI and other law enforcement agencies in America to reveal his true identity.

"From then on, officers left no stone unturned in searching for evidence both at Bolinger's house and elsewhere to ensure we presented the very best case possible regarding his actions online and his very clear intentions with a young and potentially very vulnerable girl.

"This was clearly a lengthy, painstaking and complicated investigation with a significant amount of evidence recovered in the USA.

"I hope the conviction and sentencing should serve to highlight to those attempting to hide their identity online with the intention of carrying out criminal actions: there is no hiding place.

"We will use all our powers and techniques, as well as those of other law enforcement agencies, to ensure those like Bolinger are put behind bars and justice is done."

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