April 2020

Doncaster man trapped by paedophile hunters ‘trying to meet boy at Sainsbury’s’

A judge has spared an autistic offender from time behind bars after he had been trapped by paedophile hunters.

Sheffield Crown Court heard today, Tuesday, April 28, how Mathew Canham, 32, of Rectory Gardens, Wheatley, Doncaster, had been duped into meeting a 14-year-old boy who was in fact an adult member of a paedophile hunter group.

Nicola Quinney, prosecuting, said: “Mr Canham had been communicating online on the dating site Grinder with a person he believed to be of 14-years of age called Lewis.

“Lewis was in fact a decoy profile of a group called the Hull Child Protectors who refer to themselves as a paedophile hunter group.”

The online conversation became sexual, according to Ms Quinney, and it was clear the defendant was looking to have sex and he arranged to meet the decoy at a Sainsbury’s store, at Hedon, in Hull.

Ms Quinney said: “When the defendant attended at the store – rather than being met by Lewis – he was met by members of the paedophile hunting group and police were informed.”

Canham pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming after the incident on March 28, 2018.

Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, The Recorder of Sheffield, described the case as exceptionally sad after he acknowledged Canham is autistic and struggles with social interaction and relationships.

He said: “He is a young man who has no previous convictions. That is an important feature but by far the most important feature of the case, which has an overarching importance, is the fact that the defendant is autistic.”

Judge Richardson told Canham he did not believe he was a “wicked person” but feels he does need a vast amount of support despite the efforts of his caring parents who attended court.

Canham was sentenced to six-months of custody suspended for two-years with a 35-session programme requirement and a 30-day rehabilitation requirement.

He was placed on the Sex Offender Register and made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for seven-years.

Judge Richardson also stated such matters should be left for the police and not for vigilante groups to investigate.