March 2015

Telford bookie in child-grooming case is spared prison

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A 51-year-old bookmaker and former solicitor from Telford who was caught in a sting operation while attempting to meet a 13-year-old girl he had groomed over the internet has been spared a jail sentence.

Martin Currier had believed he was meeting teenager “Jodie” on May 1, 2013, but was instead confronted by Stinson Hunter, a self-styled, paedophile-hunting vigilante, who reported him to the police.

Currier had told his trial he believed “Jodie” to have been seeking his help and he had been trying to boost her confidence. He claimed he had no intention of doing anything sexual when he agreed to the meeting.

But Currier, of St Marks Drive, Wellington, was convicted of one charge of “attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming”.

Handing down Currier’s sentence of a three-year community order at Shrewsbury Crown Court, Recorder Martin Butterworth said that despite not having “learned any sort of lesson at all”, the disgraced bookmaker should undergo a sexual offenders’ programme.

He rejected Currier’s claims he had been placed under pressure to meet the “girl”.

He said: “You, over a period of three weeks, groomed what you thought was a 13-year-old, lonely, vulnerable child, with the intention of having some sexual activity with her, and that was what you set about doing.

You have no one to blame for your situation other than yourself.”

Kim Halsall, for Currier, told the court he had received threats to his safety, leading to the police having to provide “safeguards” at his home and workplace.

Currier was told he should be thankful for the “sting” operation that snared him as it had stopped him from abusing a child.

“It is clear you believed that the group that entrapped you, this Stinson Hunter collective, are to blame for your position. They are not. You are,” said  Mr  Butterworth.

“It is even possible for it to be said you should be grateful, because had you in fact encountered a 13-year-old child who had indeed been vulnerable and lonely, and you behaved as you intended, you would have seriously damaged a child.”

Currier  must sign the sex offenders’ register for five years and made the subject of a sexual harm order which restricts his internet use and prevents him deleting internet history, and contacting children under 16 who are not his family members.

Explaining his reason for following the probation service’s advice and not imposing a custodial sentence on Currier,  Mr Butterworth said: “It may provide the court an opportunity to put a stop to it before you go on to commit offences against other child victims.”

He added: “My hesitation is you are clearly an intelligent and well-educated man, so it may be possible for you to give the impression of compliance without complying. I warn you now, if you are unable to comply with the requirements of the 36-month community order you will be brought back to court.”

Currier’s barrister, Kim Halsall, told the judge an immediate custodial sentence would be “devastating” for Currier, and his mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s.

She added: “He has been shamed and humiliated . . . He has received threats to his own personal safety which have been taken very seriously by the police.”

The trial heard Currier had been a solicitor but was struck off in 2002 after he was jailed for fraud having obtained almost £50,000 by forging a client’s will.

He had used the Badoo dating and friendship site, and in his first message told “Jodie” that she was a “very pretty girl” and asked if she had time for older guys. The reply mentioned “Jodie” was 13, but the internet and text messages continued.

Stinson Hunter collective, who posed on the internet as “Jodie”, had used a photo of a 21-year-old woman for the teenager’s picture.

Currier had claimed the man had encouraged the conversations and had suggested the meeting and said he had been trapped into going to Nuneaton.

February 2015

Telford sex case bookie found guilty after ‘sting’ by paedophile hunter

A Telford bookie has been found guilty of attempting to meet a child he groomed online after a ‘sting’ by a vigilante paedophile hunter.

Martin Currier, 51, of St Mark’s Drive in Wellington, arranged to meet up with a 13-year-old girl that he had met on a social network site.

But when he arrived at the house in Nuneaton,  Currier did not find the teenager called “Jodie” he was expecting.

Instead, he was confronted by Stinson Hunter, who runs a “sting” organisation that sets out to uncover those who prey on children on the internet.

Currier denied a charge of attempting to meet a child after sexual grooming and claimed he was trapped into going to Nuneaton during the trial this week.

The jury retired for one hour at Shrewsbury Crown Court today before returning a guilty verdict.

The court heard when he arrived at the house in Nuneaton, Martin Currier did not find the teenager called “Jodie” he was expecting.

Instead, he was confronted by a “sting” organisation, which sets out to trap those grooming children for sex.

Messages and texts between Currier and “Jodie” were read to the jury at Shrewsbury Crown Court yesterday.

The court was also shown a video of the moment he walked into the Nuneaton house to be confronted by Stinson Hunter, who later handed the recording to police.

Mr Phillip Beardwell, prosecuting, said Currier, of St Mark’s Drive in Wellington, contacted “Jodie” via the Badoo dating/friendship social network site.

The first message from Currier read “hello Jodie, you are a very pretty girl, do you have time for older guys?”, Mr Beardwell said.

The reply included the mention that “Jodie” was only 13, but the internet messages and text messages continued.