September 2017

Jersey woman poses as girl to snare online sex offender

A woman who helped bring a sex offender to justice has today said she might carry out stings in the future to catch online predators

Cheyenne O’Connor (24) posed online as a teenage girl to expose the crimes of 19-year-old Alecsandru-Moise Buta.

The Romanian hotel worker had contacted a young girl on the anonymous chat room Antichat in late March last year before he engaged in sexual chat and asked if the girl was ‘horny’.

When the conversation turned sexual, the girl told her mother who in turn told Miss O’Connor.

Miss O’Connor took over the chat – unbeknown to Buta – and within days the defendant had sent explicit messages and images of himself and arranged a meeting at the Waterfront.

Dozens of the messages have been passed to a Jersey newspaper

In some Buta asks the ‘girl’ if she wants to have sex, if she’s a virgin and if she’ll send explicit images to him.

Buta, of Maison St Louis, St Saviour, was arrested after Miss O’Connor went down to the Waterfront meeting, took covert pictures of him and shared the images as well as the messages with the police.

Buta later admitted to one count of attempted sexual grooming and was sentenced in the Magistrate’s Court to 180 hours’ community service and placed on the Sex Offenders Register for three years.

In court, Advocate James Bell, defending Buta, warned that the criminal justice system was ‘getting into dangerous territory where someone is luring someone else into an online trap’.

Miss O’Connor claimed when she first contacted the police an officer ‘threatened to have me arrested’ but that a second officer was ‘helpful’.

She added: ‘The police advised me not to do it again but it was not my intention to ever do this, it just happened. But to be honest, I caught someone who might have hurt a child. It would be something I would think about carrying on.’

Miss O’Connor added that the experience had opened her eyes to a hidden world of sex crime in Jersey.

‘I knew that these sorts of men existed but it surprised me how young he was. You think these people are all old men,’ she said.

‘I saved everything on my phone. I have got about 50 screenshots with seven to eight messages on each. He sent me pictures of his face and other things.

‘The sentence is a joke. If you punch someone in town you could get two years in prison. In court they were saying he was young and he had not done it before, well you have to start somewhere.’

Advocate Bell said in court that Buta had made a serious error of judgment and was a first-time offender.

Relief Magistrate David Le Cornu said: ‘This is an extremely serious offence that would normally attract a custodial sentence.’