December 2020

Burton paedophile hunter poses as teenage girl to catch pervert

A Burton paedophile hunter was told she was “sexy” by a pervert while she pretended to be a 13-year-old girl.

Maria Clarke, who runs a Burton-based paedophile hunter group called Children’s Innocence Matters, posed as the underage girl while talking online to Paul Bicknell, who then sent his a photograph of his private parts

He also asked if she had ever had sex and invited her to his home.

Children’s Innocence Matters then went to the 40-year-old’s address, filmed their meeting and put it online.

Now Bicknell, who had never been in trouble with the law before, is walking an 18-month tightrope to avoid being sent to jail after a judge handed him a suspended sentence

Judge Jonathan Bennett said: “You attempted to contact a girl about sexual matters.

“It was not a child, it was a decoy, but you did not know that.

“You sent her a picture of your private parts, there was a discussion about meeting, involving her coming to your property. These are serious matters.”

Julia King, prosecuting at Derby Crown Court, said Bicknell contacted “Shelly” over Facebook in May of last year.

But she said he didn’t realise the girl who told him she was 13 was actually Maria Clarke who runs Children’s Innocence Matters.

Miss King said: “She asked him how old he was and he said he was 36 and she volunteered to him she was 13.

“He told her that was no problem and when she asked him if she should tell her mother he replied that it was okay as they were only friends.

“But two days later he asked her if she had ever had sex and when she said no he asked her ‘will you have sex?’.

“A few days later he greeted her online with the term ‘hello sexy’ and asked if she would like to see his private parts.

“He then sent her an image and sent her his address.”

Miss King said Miss Clarke then went to Bicknell’s Arthur Street home, in Derby, and confronted him after calling the police, who also attended and arrested him.

She said in interview he denied he had any sexual interest in the teenager.

But he later pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and causing a child to watch a sexual image.

Judge Bennett handed Bicknell a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.

He also handed him a seven-year sexual harm prevention order and paced him on the sex offender register for seven years.

The defendant must also carry out 120 hours unpaid work and attend 30 rehabilitation sessions with the probation service.