Snared: Riders Against Paedophiles catch man '˜meeting girl' at train station
A PAEDOPHILE hunter group that snared a man in a sting has said his group is stepping in as police have fewer resources due to cuts.
Riders Against Paedophiles has finished its first case, involving a person sentenced for trying to meet a 13-year-old girl – who was instead an online profile set up by the group.
Riders Against Paedophile’s leader, who asked not to be named, said its work would continue. He said: ‘The police, they’re outnumbered, they don’t have the people.
‘You can’t fault them for that, they’re under-staffed.
‘It goes to show how strongly the public are feeling about this sort of crime that groups like us are willing to take it into our hands.’
Portsmouth Crown Court heard Mark Morgan, 45, went to meet who he thought was a 15-year-old girl he was messaging called Sarah.
The profile also had ‘19 Fareham’ underneath the user name. Morgan sent the profile a message on October 4, 2016, which said: ‘Come see me love xx :)’.
The profile said: ‘I’m only 13 though, that okay?’ Morgan replied: ‘What’s your number? I want you today.’
The group arranged to meet Morgan at Petersfield train station the next day.
Judge Nicholas Haggan QC said messages had been swapped between the profile and Morgan, of Osier Road, Petersfield, that made it clear Morgan wanted to have sex.
When the group arrived they spotted Morgan and called police.
‘Police officers attended the railway station and arrested you,’ judge Haggan said, addressing Morgan.
‘When arrested and informed you had been the subject of a sting operation and had been in communication with a girl you believed to be 13, you said you actually thought she was 19, you thought when she put that on there it was a typo.’
The judge said it was an ‘isolated incident’ and Morgan posed a ‘low risk of further sexual offending’.
Morgan was sentenced to an 18-month term suspended for two years, with 40 days of rehabilitation activities.
He must sign the sex offenders’ register and an order restricts his contact with children for five years.
Morgan, who had denied the charge, was convicted of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming at a trial, where he claimed he misunderstood the girl’s age.