November 2015

Pervert who arranged to meet 14-year-old girl for sex jailed

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Beniam Tsegay has been locked up after arranging to meet a 14-year-old girl for sex – only to be confronted by a Potteries paedophile hunter.

The 37-year-old was exposed after footage of the meeting outside Hanley’s intu Potteries shopping centre was seen by thousands of people on the internet.

Police were handed the video – including evidence of their online conversation – and arrested Tsegay the next day.

Now ‘predatory’ Tsegay – who lives in Hanley and came to Britain as an asylum seeker – has been handed a 16-month jail term.

Judge David Fletcher told the defendant: “You began an online relationship with someone you believed to be a 14-year-old girl with the intention of having sexual intercourse – there can be no other view given the conversations you had.

“A clear message has to be sent out that this type of predatory behaviour has to be dealt with in very serious terms.”

The anonymous paedophile hunter who successfully snared a 37-year-old man started his vigilante campaign to catch the area’s perverts.

Beniam Tsegay is today starting a 16-month prison term after pleading guilty to attempting to groom a child – on the back of footage captured by a man simply known as Azazel.

Thousands viewed the video of the vigilante confronting the father-of-two outside Hanley’s intu Potteries shopping centre, where the offender thought he was set to meet a 14-year-old girl he’d been messaging online.

Now Azazel has promised to continue his campaign of shaming paedophiles after his successful first mission.

The Stoke-on-Trent-based vigilante, who is a father, has backed Tsegay’s prison term.

He said: “I welcome the sentence and how the judge handled the case. I’m not in this for attention or fame, it’s just about doing what is right.

“I have received messages from men of all ages and even when I tell them I am 14 they carry on. This is going to be an ongoing thing and there may be another one to come. I hope it sends out a warning that someone is in the area who will expose them.”

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard Tsegay thought he was in contact with a girl called Natalie. But Azazel had set up the fake profile using a picture of a teenage model.

Heather Chamberlin, prosecuting, said: “The man who set up the profile had become concerned by what he was reading about adults grooming and meeting up with under-age girls.

“He had various people contact him including one man with the user name of Tesfay, the defendant. The man behind the fake profile told him he was only 14, but he was told it was OK. There were future messages where it was discussed meeting to kiss and then to have sex. In terms of culpability, penetrative sex was intended.”

The court heard a meeting was arranged for October 19 outside the shopping centre.

But Azazel confronted the defendant and showed him their messages. The footage was handed to Staffordshire Police and officers arrested

Tsegay, of Century Street, Hanley, the following day.

He initially told officers he believed ‘Natalie’ was 18. But he yesterday admitted attempting to groom a child between October 8 and October 20.

Jason Holt, mitigating, said: “He took to this website for friendship with like-minded adults and he admits himself that when this user said she was 14 he should have ended the conversation there – but he didn’t.”

The defendant – who must sign the Sex Offenders’ Register – was handed an order limiting his use of the internet. He must also pay a £900 criminal court charge.

Judge David Fletcher told the defendant: “You are a 37-year-old man and you were trying to have sex with a 14-year-old. The exchange of messages takes place over 12 days before you agreed to a meeting. You expected to meet a 14-year-old and your intention going forward was made clear online.”