March 2017

Online vigilante snared Carlisle man who tried to groom ‘girl’

A man tried to groom a 15-year-old “girl” he met online – only to learn he had been snared by a volunteer vigilante.

Peter James Bragg, 34, said he wanted to meet the teenager and made a series of illegal sexual suggestions during “three solid days” of computer chat last May.

However, Bragg had actually been chatting to a 37-year-old mother, who then reported him to police.

At Carlisle Crown Court, Bragg was jailed for 21-months having admitted two counts of attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity.

Prosecutor Tim Evans said the woman had created a fake social media profile for an “imaginary” 15-year-old girl. She did so using a photograph of her own adult teenage daughter, who gave permission.

The mother set up the ruse as part of an organisation named “Hunters”.

“She describes this is a group of volunteers attempting to expose potential online grooming,” said Mr Evans.

Bragg first made contact with the “girl” on the evening of May 11. He gave a series of correct personal details and shared images of himself. This included a video which revealed first his clothed body and then his face.

“In fact he was wearing the same clothing he was wearing at police interview,” said Mr Evans.

Bragg discussed indecent acts he was keen to carry out during an online conversation which, the court heard, ran to “100 pages” over “three solid days”.

“It is plain from the communications that she says on many occasions,” added Mr Evans, “that she was only 15 years old.

“The tone of the conversation was, unhappily, as one would expect of this type of offending.”

Bragg was said to have 12 offences on his criminal record, although there were no previous sex crimes.

Jailing Bragg, of Linton Street, Carlisle, Judge Peter Davies described his actions as “persistent”.

“It was deliberate, it was pre-meditated and it was grooming her for a particular type of activity,” he said.