Rob Stephenson said in mitigation he was a man of previous good character who had served the army and Ministry of Defence for almost 40 years.
He said the internet forum was for adults and Handley “didn’t (initially) go looking” for child sex, and had never acted in this way before.
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GESIS is a research and service organization that provides a research-driven infrastructure for the social sciences and closely collaborates with computer science and social science departments at top universities in Europe and Northern America.
The police will coordinate with Interpol and the immigration office in handling the case, he added.