A FORMER senior ferry officer and Scout volunteer was snared by a paedophile hunter after sending inappropriate online messages to what he thought was a 13-year-old boy.
But he had, in fact, been conversing with an adult posing as a youngster who was working for paedophile hunter group Child Safe UK. That person referred the matter to police.
Parker, now of Picket Twenty Way, Andover, appeared before the court having pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to facilitate a sexual offence against a child.
Judge Gary Burrell sentenced Parker to a 12-month prison term, suspended for two years. He ordered the defendant sign the sex offenders register for 10 years and made him the subject of a sexual harm prevention order.
Judge Burrell also told Parker to complete a 55-day rehab programme and pay £600 court costs.
At the time of the offences Parker was a first officer for ferry firm Red Funnel and as part of his role went into local schools and had worked with young children on projects.
He is also recorded on the firm’s website as meeting and chatting with Prince Edward at the Royal Yacht Squadron’s marine fair in Cowes during 2017.
Parker, who served in the Royal Navy as a young man, was also formerly associated with local churches and Scouting.
Speaking after the case, Red Funnel said: “We can confirm that Matthew Parker is no longer employed by Red Funnel and that he left the business in October 2018.
“Whilst we cannot comment on the employment of any individual for legal reasons, we would like to emphasise that Red Funnel places the safeguarding of its customers, employees and stakeholders as one of its highest priorities.
“We fully cooperate with any investigation and will always take immediate and appropriate action that may be required.
“As the court ruling against Mr Parker does not pertain to his employment at Red Funnel, we are unable to make any further comments for legal and data protection reasons.”
It was revealed to the A&T by the Scout movement it was not the first time Parker’s conduct had aroused police interest.
A spokesman said concerns were raised with the Scouts in 2013 – which caused the movement to report him to police. As a result the Scouts suspended him and an investigation was carried out.
“Following the police investigation and while he was still suspended we started a review of Parker’s volunteer role,” the spokesman said.
“He resigned from his volunteer position during this review. Parker has not volunteered with the Scout movement since he left in 2013.
“We can confirm that following his conviction Parker was permanently excluded from Scouting and will never volunteer with us again.”
Parker has removed most of his profiles online, apart from one on Viewranger – a site on which people can reveal their outdoor activities.
He lists walking, hiking, cycle touring, kayaking, inland boating, coastal pilotage, downhill skiing, rock climbing and photography among his interests.