January 2021

Unemployed HGV driver planned to meet girl, 13, in car park

A man instigated online “grooming exercises” with what he thought were underage girls, a court was told.

In reality, John Taylor, then 59, fell for decoy social media profiles posted by different paedophile-hunting groups and the “girls”, “Natalie”, 14, and “Ellie”, 13, did not exist.

Durham Crown Court was told the unemployed lorry driver sent them hundreds of messages, initially appearing kind and friendly, asking them about school and relationships with their parents, warning one to “be careful” when communicating with young lads, as they would try to, “get her into bed”.

He became more “sexual”, sending heart, cuddly animal and bouquet emojis, telling them he considered them to be his girlfriend.

But in each case the messaging became more sexualised, asking for photographs, and he tried to arrange to meet one, suggesting a car park rendezvous, but urging her to, “keep it quiet”.

Paul Newcombe, prosecuting, said both vigilante groups, Action for Kids North-West and Guardians of the North, informed police and Taylor was arrested.

He was arrested and, when interviewed, made “no comment” to relevant questions.

Taylor was charged with three counts of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, two involving one of the profiles as it included three phone calls.

Now aged 62, the defendant, of Dean Street, Shildon, admitted all three counts.

He was said to have nine previous offences on his record, but none since 2006.

A probation report said Taylor requires specific programme work to address the risk he poses of reoffending.

Judge James Adkin said due to the sexualised nature of some messages, it, “crosses the custody threshold”.

Amrit Jandoo, for Taylor, said it was accepted it could result in a prison sentence, but urged Judge Adkin to go along with the recommendation of the probation report.

Agreeing, Judge Adkin said he would suspend a nine-month prison sentence, for two years, but Taylor must attend 40 probation-led rehabilitation activity days to address his behaviour.

Taylor must observe a six-month 7pm to 7am home curfew, while he will also be subject to restrictions under a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and registration as a sex offender, both for ten years.

Judge Adkin told him if he complies with the orders that would be the end of the matter, after two years, but any breaches would see him back before the court, facing an immediate prison sentence.