March 2021

Pervert sent perverted messages to boy, 14 – but it wasn’t who he thought

A man who tried to meet a teenage boy for sex was caught when the youngster turned out to be an undercover ‘paedophile hunter’.

Stephen King, from Leigh, sent a series of messages to an online profile on a swingers website which he thought belonged to a 14-year-old boy called Oliver Smith.

He sent a series of explicit messages and pictures of himself to the account, Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court heard today (Tuesday).

When ‘Oliver’ told King he was only 14, the 39-year-old asked him to ‘keep that quiet so I don’t get booted off’, referring to the website.

Prosecuting, Amanda Johnson told the court that the account had actually been set up by Timothy Allcock, a member of a paedophile hunting group called Elusive Child Protection.

Having first contacted ‘Oliver’ on August 4, 2019, King then sent the decoy youngster several extremely explicit messages on communications app Kik, which were later discovered when police went through his phone.

King also asked to see photos of the supposed 14-year-old in the shower.

And, when ‘Oliver’ told him he was with a 12-year-old friend, the older man asked if he was also on the swinger site and then said, ‘it’s naughty enough with a 14-year-old’.

By August 6, King had asked to meet up with the fake teenager and Allcock, along with other members of his group, set up a ‘sting’.

They original asked King where he was and on discovering he was in the car park of the B&M store off Station Road, Swinton, the group drove to the location to confront him.

When they pulled up in front of the 39-year-old’s van he reversed and quickly drove away. However, Allcock and his associates were able to find King’s address online and drove to his home to find him sat in the van with his mother in the passenger seat.

They dragged him to the ground and held him there until police arrived to arrest him.

Later searches of King’s phone, seized at the scene, showed online searches for ‘Snapchat teen girl’ and ‘Snapchat c***’.

His Honour Judge Alan Conrad QC told the court that the offences King had committed would not be in the highest class of culpability because the teenager in question was not real and so he had not actually caused harm to a child.

He also said the defendant was of ‘previous good character’ and that there was a ‘real prospect of rehabilitation’.

“These are serious matters,” the judge explained, addressing King directly.

King was charged with attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming and attempting to make a child watch an image of a person engaging in sexual acts.

Taking into account his guilty plea and the time since the incident happened, Judge Conrad handed the defendant a 12-month sentence suspended for two years, along with a four-month electrically tagged curfew which means he must be at home between 8pm and 6am.

He was also made the subject of a 10-year sexually harm prevention order and ordered to attend rehabilitation sessions, as well as being signed up to the sex offenders register for the next ten years.