December 2015

Online paedophile hunters snare paedophile at railway station


An online paedophile hunter group trapped a would-be child sex offender on a railway station – then marched him to the police station.

The group, called Emerald Dragon Anonymous, also handed police a computer disc revealing graphic online conversations he’d had with two fictional 14-year-old girls, “Lisa” and “Chloe”, Caernarfon Crown Court heard.

Michael Harper, 34, who had been living at a hostel at Bangor at the time, admitted attempting to meet a 14-year-old girl following sexual grooming, and also to two charges of attempting to arrange the commission of a child sex offence was jailed for two years.

Harper, was confronted by the group on the city’s railway station where he planned to meet one of the girls, “Lisa” – who didn’t exist.

Prosecuting, Elen Owen said Harper was on the station on July 31 to meet Lisa.

“She was a fiction and members of the group were there to meet him,” she said.

“The group confronted him and handed to a member of the British Transport Police a computer disc containing the evidence they had recorded of his activities.

“They refused to identify themselves and were wearing masks. The defendant then agreed to walk to Bangor police station accompanied by the group and after they spoke to an officer he was arrested.”

She added that when interviewed Harper claimed most of the messages sent to Lisa and Chloe were sent in error and he meant to send them to an adult woman. He claimed he’d intended to talk and had no intention of indulging in sexual activity.

Miss Owen read extracts from messages sent by Harper, one of which had included an intimate photograph. He discussed sex with Chloe and had asked her to wear a thong.

Harper was of previous good character and came from a good background, though his parents had disowned him because of the case.

Jailing him, Judge Michael Burr said it was clear that Harper wanted to arrange sexual activity, though it never happened.

The judge said: “Nevertheless your state of mind was clear and determined and it was your intention to carry out what you described in graphic detail in communication between you and who you believed to be two young girls.”

There was no possibility of contact of a kind which destroyed so many young lives.

He must sign the sex offenders’ register for ten years and a Sexual Offences Prevention Order was also imposed.