A convicted sex offender who was caught sending nude pictures of himself to a police officer posing as a 13-year-old girl died by suicide, a court has heard. 

The body of Colin Smith, of Calthorpe Close in Stalham, was discovered by a family member at his home on November 15 last year. 

An inquest into the 59-year-old’s death, held at Norfolk Coroner’s Court, heard how the former long-serving Lotus Cars security guard had been struggling with his mental health. 

Evidence read out in court heard that Mr Smith had tried to end his life in 2018, when he faced a custodial sentence after pleading guilty to attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child. 

Eastern Daily Press:

At the time, Norwich Magistrate’s Court heard how he had sent messages to a teen who identified herself as Ava Hilton, a 13-year-old girl, on a social media site. 

Ava Hilton was in fact an undercover police officer, and that he had identified himself to Ava as a 50-year-old man using the username 'Fizzy Fangs'. 

He had sent messages with mostly sexual innuendos, and illicit nude images. 

He had no previous convictions and was sentenced to 24 weeks in prison, suspended for two years. 

Eastern Daily Press: Calthorpe Close in Stalham

He was also given a sexual harm prevention order and placed on the sex offender register, both lasting for seven years. 

In a statement provided to the Norwich-based court, his friend and ex-wife, Helen Smith, paid tribute highlighting his love of animals and sense of humour.

Coroner’s Court also heard how Mr Smith had a turbulent relationship with his adult son and was also dealing with bereavement following the recent death of his father. 

The court was told that Mr Smith had been planning to start a fresh life by moving abroad. 

The medical cause of death was revealed as “hanging” and the area coroner, Yvonne Blake, recorded a conclusion of suicide. 

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