A PREDATOR who was snared by online paedophile catchers months after molesting a boy with severe learning disabilities has been jailed for five years.
Nigel Hall of Nobes Avenue, Gosport, was sentenced to a total of 60 months in prison at Portsmouth Crown Court today, after a string of sexual offences involving underage boys.
The court heard on the morning of July 16, 2017, Hall, 34, inappropriately touched a teenager with the mental age of a five-year-old in the toilets of Portsmouth Harbour Railway Station.
Prosecuting, Christopher Stopa told the court the victim – who has autism – had been waiting to catch a train with his carer.
Mr Stopa said Hall had been captured on the station’s CCTV standing behind the victim and his carer for ‘one-and-a-half minutes’, before ‘following them through the ticket office’ and walking into the toilet.
‘[The victim] then told his carer he needed to go to the toilet,’ Mr Stopa said.
‘When [the victim] came out, his carer noticed he had water marks up the length of his arms, from the waist down to his knees.’
Mr Stopa told the court Hall had attempted to wash his victim’s clothes after sexually assaulting him, in an encounter lasting six minutes.
CCTV from the station showed he left the toilet at 10.46am, one minute before the victim – who was interviewed by police on July 18.
Hall was arrested on July 19.
In an impact statement read out by Mr Stopa, the victim’s mother told the court the abuse had ‘turned her family’s world upside-down’.
In a second offence, committed over Christmas of 2017 and New Year of 2018, Hall was snared by regional Facebook group Skid Community, while on bail.
The court heard he was greeted by Skid representatives – who work to keep children safe by snaring sexual predators – when he attempted to meet a 14-year-old schoolboy, their own alias, at the Forton Road Co-op in Gosport.
The confrontation came after Hall sexually groomed the character via gay and bisexual mobile networking app, Grindr.
Mr Stopa told the court messages between Hall and the account had alluded to oral sex, as well as ‘kissing’ and ‘cuddling’.
The meeting, uploaded to Skid Community’s public Facebook page on January 25, led to Hall being taken into custody.
Weeks later on February 26, he pleaded guilty to the counts of engaging in sexual activity with a person with a mental disorder impeding choice, and arranging to meet a child under 16 following sexual grooming.
In the moments prior to his sentencing today however, Hall’s solicitor Daniel Reilly told the court his defendant, appearing via video link, had committed the crimes while facing ‘depression’ and ‘low self-esteem’.
He added Hall was ‘engaging’ with a mental health team to address ‘real issues’ and ‘risk’ he poses to himself.
Concluding, judge William Mousley QC said the five-year prison spell he handed Hall took into consideration the fact the defendant had also breached an indefinite sexual offences prevention order he was given at Portsmouth Crown Court in April, 2014.
After telling Hall his name will appear on the sex offenders register for life and he was banned from working with children, Mr Mousley added: ‘Any breach of this requirement could result in a further sentence of up to five years.’
‘We will continue to help the police’
Members of the online group who snared predator Nigel Hall have pledged their allegiance to catching more paedophiles.
A spokesperson for Skid Community said the Facebook will continue to fight the ‘epidemic’ of sexual predators targeting underage children online, following Hall’s five-year prison sentence.
Speaking to The News, a volunteer from the group said: ‘Until the police have the much-needed resources and training in place to deal with this online epidemic, then the team and myself will always feel this is an important thing to do.
‘We will continue to help the police with bringing the online threats to court.’
Reflecting on their snare which helped put Hall behind bars, they added: ‘It’s potentially five years he will be unable to abuse minors or vulnerable adults.
‘My main thoughts go out to the victim and his family, who went through such a tragic ordeal. I just hope that us exposing him allowed them some further justice and closure on this chapter.’