London, England: On October 28, 2021, Francois Olwage was supposed to be "on duty working from home" when he boarded a train to Basingstroke, Hamshire and entered a McDonald's, believing that he would be meeting a 13-year-old girl by the name of Caitlin. He was soon arrested by two undercover officers.
In his possession at the time, officers located two condoms, lubricant, a packet of Tadalafil, and Ferrero Rocher chocolates that the prosecution speculated may have been a present for the girl.
Olwage, a 52-year-old father of three, worked with the Metropolitan Police counter-terrorism unit as a detective constable. He worked with the Met for nine years and the Hertfordshire Constabulary for seven.
On Thursday, April 14, a jury found him guilty of attempted sexual communication with a child, attempting to cause or incite a girl aged 13 to engage in sexual activity, and attempting to meet a girl under the age of 16 following grooming.
Earlier today, he was sentenced by Judge Jane Miller QC to five and a half years in prison.
Following the conviction, Senior Crown Prosecutor Marc Thompson said, "Francois Olwage had every intention of grooming and meeting a 13-year-old girl. He denied any sexual interest in children, yet the evidence presented was strong enough for the jury to be sure he was guilty.
Olwage's messages made it clear he believed he was in contact with a child. Despite this belief, he exchanged messages about sexual acts, and was grooming her. On the day he planned to meet with his victim, he abandoned his police duties to pursue sexual gratification from someone he believed to be a child.
"No actual children were in danger, but it has given us a glimpse into what this man is capable of doing when he thinks he can rely on the anonymity of the internet. This is made all the more serious because he has broken the trust of the public he has sworn to protect."
Olwage, on Monday, April 11 plead guilty to a charge of corrupt or other improper exercise of police powers and privileges. It is unclear if the five and a half year sentence includes time for this offense or not.
Additionally on April 14, Judge Miller directed the jury to rule not-guilty on a count of arranging or facilitating commission of a child sex offense.
Olwage told the court that in the two weeks he was speaking to "Smile Bear" he didn't believe it was a child but rather, an adult "playing out a fantasy."
Judge Miller was not convinced. "You were a highly regarded police officer with considerable experience," she said during the sentencing. "You were expected to uphold the law but by trying to take advantage of a vulnerable child, albeit fictional, you showed disregard for the public trust and confidence that is held in your office."
Olwage is currently suspended from duty with the Metropolitan Police and has a police misconduct hearing scheduled for May 31, 2022.