December 2017

Paedophile hunters live streamed Suffolk man ‘sting’ in pub car park

A Suffolk man whose confrontation by ‘paedophile hunters’ was live streamed on social media could face jail for attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.

Dale Hanson encountered four internet vigilantes in the car park of a Felixstowe pub after engaging with what he thought to be an 11-year-old girl.

He appeared at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court, in Ipswich, on Monday.

Hanson sat in the dock with his head bowed as the court heard how the 37-year-old had made contact with what he thought to be an 11-year-old girl between June 31 and July 19 of this year.

Prosecutor Wayne Ablitt said a group operating as paedophile hunters had set up fake online profiles for girls under the age of 16 and waited for internet users to make contact.

Mr Ablitt said Hanson had responded to a profile appearing to be for a girl aged about 11, called Sam, which had actually been set up by vigilante group member Daniel Cook.

According to the prosecution, Hanson, of Barnhams Way, Bury St Edmunds, then sent sexually explicit messages to ‘Sam’, eventually setting up a meeting in July.

Hanson arrived in the car park of the Owl and Pussycat pub, in Felixstowe, having arranged a meeting with an adult, to be confronted by Daniel Cook and three other members of the group.

The encounter, or ‘sting’, was streamed live on social media.

Transcripts of messages exchanged between Hanson and the fake profile were submitted to police, who interviewed and charged Hanson after seizing his phone.

Hanson, who was charged with attempting to communicate with attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, admitted his guilt at a hearing on November 20, but the case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report to be compiled by the probation service.

With the matter now bound for crown court, David Allan, representing Hanson, offered no immediate mitigation on behalf of his client. Representations will instead be made in front of a judge on a date to be confirmed.

Hanson was released on conditional bail until his sentencing at Ipswich Crown Court.

Magistrates said that, based on their assessment of the offence, the matter should be dealt with at the higher court.