July 2016

Pervert, 56, caught by ‘paedophile hunter’ pretending to be 14-year-old girl

PERVERT Keith Whitby was snared by a ‘paedophile hunter’ who pretended to be a teenage girl.

The 56-year-old engaged in online conversation with the ‘girl’ and encouraged her to touch him sexually.

The messages continued over several weeks before the defendant was reported to the police.

Now Whitby – who has no previous convictions – has been handed a three-year community order at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.

Prosecutor Neil Ahuja said a man set up a false profile online to target and catch men who try to engage in sexual behaviour with children.

He called himself Sarah and used a picture of a girl he obtained from Instagram.

Mr Ahuja said: “He got into a conversation with the defendant and stated he was aged 15. The messages started in October. The defendant set up a profile and identified himself with a picture of himself. He contacted the person purporting to be Sarah a few weeks before it became sexual.”

The defendant was then told the girl was aged 14 but his conversation was sexual.

Mr Ahuja added: “Further messages indicated an apparent arrangement to potentially meet.”

The police were contacted and the defendant was interviewed on December 23. He said he talked to women aged 18 and over but on two occasions had spoken to under 18s.

He added he would never have arranged to meet the youngster.

Whitby, of Norton Street, Milton, pleaded guilty to attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity.

Jason Holt, mitigating, said it is not known if there was any incitement by the man purporting to be Sarah.

He added that Whitby has lost his 30-year marriage and anticipates he will lose his job.

Judge David Fletcher sentenced Whitby to a three-year community order with a requirement to complete a sex offenders’ programme and a rehabilitation activity requirement for 10 sessions.

He was placed on the sex offenders’ register for five years and was made the subject of a five-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

Judge Fletcher said: “You are a middle-aged man who has behaved very foolishly indeed, who has let himself be dragged into the cyber-world and be caught up in the sort of discussions that are dangerous. It is evident from this case just how easy it is to be pulled in.”

Whitby must pay £250 costs.