January 2021

Andover man Jonathan Furber given suspended sentence

An Andover man caught by paedophile hunters has been given a suspended sentence on two charges today.

Jonathan Furber, of Salisbury Road, had previously pleaded guilty to two charges, attempting to incite a child to sexual activity and attempting to incite a child to watch a sexual act.

He was arrested after paedophile hunters arranged a meeting at a pub where he was confronted.

The 31-year-old was given a 16-month sentence for the offences, suspended for two years.

Sentencing Furber on January 28, Judge Miller QC said that this was “a one and only” opportunity for him, but warned that any reoffences or breach of the sentence would see him returned to court.

Winchester Crown Court heard from prosecutor Roderick Blain, who said that in 2018, Furber began messaging with an account that he believed was used by a 14-year-old girl called Hannah. This account was actually being run by an adult female member of a “vigilante organisation”.

Despite telling Furber that the supposed user of the account was underage, he proceeded to send sexually explicit pictures.

Conversation then moved to WhatsApp, where “extremely graphic and sexualised” messaging continued, including video of the defendant masturbating and suggestions ‘Hannah’ should do the same.

A meeting was then arranged at a pub, where the court heard that Furber “wanted to take her into the forest for sex”. Upon arrival, he was confronted by the paedophile hunter group “in numbers”, who livestreamed their citizens arrest on the internet.

Police subsequently were called and arrested Furber.

The judge agreed with defence, with the starting point of four years for the first charge halved as the offence in question could never have taken place, as the 14-year-old child did not exist.

This was then reduced by a third due to his guilty plea, and then suspended for two years.

Sentencing Furber, Judge Miller said that he had demonstrated “considerable remorse” by pleading guilty despite the absence of evidence from the paedophile hunters, and said that was “a real chance of rehabilitation.”

“I am being lenient,” she said. “You’re not going to get another chance like this, it’s a one and only.”

She warned him against reoffending or breaching the terms of his sentence, adding: “This is a chance. Please don’t make me regret it.”

In addition to his suspended sentence, Furber was ordered to attend a sex offenders course and to attend 25 days of rehabilitation, as well as conduct 100 hours of unpaid work.

He was also given a sexual harm prevention order and ordered to surrender his phone, which is to be destroyed.