December 2016

Dark Justice snare pervert trying to meet ’13-year-old girl’ for a ‘kiss and a cuddle’

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A pervert who turned up to meet a 13-year-old girl to “kiss and cuddle” but was instead confronted by paedophile hunters Dark Justice has been spared prison

Stephen Bateman thought he was meeting an underage schoolgirl he had met on Facebook and been having online sex chat with.

But the 24-year-old had been snared by Dark Justice, who pose as teen girls online to expose men looking for sex with children.

But despite adding the ‘girl’ on Facebook and pleading guilty to attempted grooming, a judge let him walk from court.

Judge Amanda Rippon handed him a suspended sentence – because of his immaturity.

Bateman, of Walker, Newcastle, was snared when Dark Justice turned up to meet him – with the police in tow – at the city’s Millennium Bridge in February.

He initially claimed he was in the area just to see the seaside quayside, a patch of walkway the council converts into a makeshift beach each year.

Prosecutor Emma Downing said: “He said his only intention was to look at the Quayside beach and denied sexual motivation.

“He said they were only going to chat.”

On the day he was due to stand trial at Newcastle Crown Court Bateman pleaded guilty to attempted grooming.

Prosecutors accepted his guilty plea on the basis he intended to “kiss and cuddle” with the girl but no further sexual activity.

Miss Downing told the court Bateman had sent the girl a friend request on Facebook and said it was a “random add”.

The conversation quickly turned sexual, despite Bateman being told almost immediately that she was only 13.

During one conversation Bateman was asked what he wanted at the meet up and he replied “kiss and cuddle”.

Judge Amanda Rippon told Bateman: “You must understand, this is a serious offence. You cannot engage in sexual conversation with children.

“You are lucky that this was not a 13-year-old who met you because the offences could have been a lot more serious.

“When you met your intention was to kiss and cuddle her and nothing more but if she had been 13 and a meeting had followed you may have gone further than that.”

Judge Rippon sentenced Bateman to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years, with rehabilitation requirements and ten year sex offender registration.