A PROLIFIC paedophile who was snared by vigilantes who posed as children has been jailed for over nine years.
Mark Baber, 43, was duped by ‘paedophile hunters’ after attempting to engage in sexual activity with what he thought were children via online chat rooms before he was brought to justice, Portsmouth Crown Court heard.
The conviction comes after it was widely reported earlier this month that evidence gained from paedophile hunters was used to charge suspects in England and Wales on at least 150 occasions last year.
Baber’s predatory attempts in December last year were exposed after he sent crude messages and sexually graphic pictures as he looked to secure encounters with children using his dark ‘high speed grooming’ tactics.
The defendant was then tracked to his Fareham home address – where he was nowhere to be found – before he was finally hunted down and discovered at his work. Police arrested him the following day.
‘(Baber) was talking to three women posing as children in chat rooms where he made a number of sexual suggestions and sent crude photos of himself before the team found him,’ prosecutor Timothy Compton said.
Baber also downloaded over 20 disturbing images of children aged between two and 14 years of age.
When police turned up at his address they found he had deleted his internet history - something he was prohibited from doing under the terms of an order from his previous term of imprisonment for similar offences.
The court also heard how Baber befriended a lady with his ulterior motives laid bare when he started texting her daughter. On one occasion, the predator sent the girl a message saying he would get her a sex toy with a bean bag cushion.
He also capitalised on an opportunity to spend time alone with the child when the mum fell asleep – further putting him in breach of his conditions with him not allowed to be by himself with a child.
The mum’s horror was compounded when she searched Baber on the internet and found out he was a paedophile.
The court heard how the child offender had 26 previous convictions and was sentenced to 48 months prison in 2013 for similar offences after downloading a string of vile child images and attempted to incite children into sexual activity.
In defence, Daniel Reilly, said Baber was released in October 2017 before finding himself homeless and abandoned by his family who wanted nothing more to do with him which had resulted in him losing out on a significant amount of family inheritance.
‘(Baber) knew he did wrong and wanted to stop,’ Mr Reilly said.
The defence solicitor then told the court of the paedophile’s remorse. ‘I’m totally ashamed of what I did. I want to make sure this is never repeated,’ Baber said.
Baber, of Riverside Avenue, Warrington, admitted attempting to incite children into sexual activity, deleting his internet history, distributing images of children and for breaching his sexual offences order.
After sentencing Baber to nine years and three months in prison, judge Robert Hill said: ‘You did your best to incite sex with children. The only difference was that you were being set up.’