February 2021

Paedophile hunter groups catch man messaging ‘girls’ online

A pervert who sent messages inciting a ’10-year-old girl’ to sexually touch herself and send him pictures was in fact communicating with members of a paedophile hunter group.

Gary Chitticks pleaded guilty to attempting to cause or incite a girl under the age of 13 to engage in a sexual activity of a non-penetrative nature.

The 36-year-old thought he was talking to a child called ‘Ruby’, but she was in fact a decoy child.

Chitticks also admitted attempting to communicate with decoy child ‘Lauren’, who was aged under 16, with the communication being intended to encourage her to communicate sexually.

A sentencing hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court on Friday, January 22, was told the defendant exchanged messages with ‘Lauren’ in an online chat room on November 26, 2020.

Prosecuting, Tim Akers said Chitticks asked how old ‘Lauren’ was and he received a reply which said she was 12.

The messages continued, with the defendant making sexual references.

He asked ‘Lauren’ why she used the chat rooms. She said “to chat and make friends” and he said the same, adding “maybe a little bit of naughty fun TBH [to be honest]”.

Mr Akers said Chitticks, who worked as a roofer prior to the pandemic, began messaging ’10-year-old Ruby’ on December 8, 2020, and a conversation continued over the next five days.

The court heard the defendant sent messages “asking to see pictures of Ruby’s genitalia” and told her “you do not need to worry about your mum”.

As the conversation continued he said “you are a good girl for not telling (your mum), I would be the one who would get in trouble”.

Mr Akers said one of the last messages he sent said “love you xx”.

In both chats with ‘Lauren’ and ‘Ruby’, Chitticks had been speaking to people from northern-based online predator hunting group ‘Keeping innocent dreams safe’, who sent the information on to southern group ‘No excuses’.

The latter learned Chitticks was residing in Dudmoor Farm Road, Christchurch, and confronted him about what he had done on December 19, 2020.

After he confessed to speaking to ‘young girls’ online, police attended and he was arrested.

Mitigating, Leah Dillon said her client made “full and frank admissions” in interview the day after he was arrested and his actions in late November and December were an “aberration”.

“Throughout the pre-sentence report it is clear that Mr Chitticks expresses genuine and sincere remorse for his actions,” said Ms Dillon.

She added: “He cannot explain why this happened. He doesn’t know he did what he did. He is quite frankly appalled by his own behaviour – ashamed, embarrassed and shocked.”

Judge Jonathan Fuller QC said Chitticks was in “denial” over his sexual interests in children.

He told the defendant the “purpose with which your messages were sent suggests you were fully aware of what you were doing”.

“The contact was sexualised and you knew the potential victim was young and vulnerable,” said Judge Fuller QC.

“The contact required a degree of guile. You had sought out a particular age group and were interested in that age group but, nevertheless, you remain in denial.”

The offence of inciting a girl under 13 carried a starting point of eight years in custody. This was reduced to four years imprisonment due to the defendant’s guilty plea and because it was an attempted crime. He was handed a concurrent sentence of eight months for the other sexual offence.

The defendant was issued with a Sexual Harm Provision Order and required to be on the Sex Offenders Register indefinitely.

He was handed a concurrent seven-day prison term for an offence of possessing herbal cannabis, which he admitted at an earlier hearing.