July 2020

‘Manipulative’ Ledbury sex offender caught by ‘paedophile hunters’

A ‘manipulative’ sex offender who tried to contact underage girls was caught by paedophile hunters using fake Facebook profiles.

Benjamin Hollins, previously of New Street, Ledbury, had previously admitted four counts of attempted sexual communication with a child when he was formally arraigned at Worcester Crown Court.

However, in reality he had not been in touch with real but so-called ‘paedophile hunters’.

The first offence happened between March 3 and March 23 this year, the second on December 13 last year, the third between February 26 and March 3 this year and the fourth on March 24 this year.

The messages were described in the particulars of the offences, read out by the clerk in open court, as ‘sexually inappropriate messages’ sent via Facebook Messenger.

The 25-year-old, who now has a curfew address in Western Way, Dymock, Gloucestershire, appeared again at the city’s crown court on Thursday.

Judge Martin Jackson said: “This is a case of a defendant who has indulged in really quite unpleasant, manipulative behaviour to those he believed to be young girls.”

The judge said the defendant had even threatened to kill himself if they did not reply to his messages and that he had later claimed his Facebook account had been ‘hacked’.

He adjourned the case until September 25 to allow time for medical records to be produced. However, he warned Hollins: “I’m not making any promise as to what the eventual outcome of this case will be. That will be down to the judge who sentences you.”

Hollins was bailed to remain at his Gloucestershire address and must remain on an electronically monitored curfew between 9pm and 7am.

He must not to attend an address in Ledbury and must not to have contact with any child under 16 via the internet or any form of social media unless supervised by an appropriate person approved by social services.

He is also not to undertake any activities, paid or unpaid, which involve contact with any child under 16.