Shamed soldier run away from paedophile hunters Dark Justice at Newcastle Central Station
Shamed soldier Gareth Walters ran away from paedophile hunters when they confronted him in Newcastle city centre.
The 38-year-old turned up at Central Station hoping to meet a 13-year-old but had fallen into a trap set by Dark Justice.
When faced by the vigilante duo and their camera instead of the schoolgirl he had hoped for, Walters made a run for it but justice soon caught up with him.
He was later arrested at his home and told police he only planned to warn the fictional youngster about the dangers of the internet if she had shown up.
Now Walters, of Gateshead, who pleaded guilty to attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, has been given a suspended prison sentence at Newcastle Crown Court.
The court heard he had already been dismissed from the armed forces after being given a sentence of imprisonment for wounding and deserting in 2013.
In September 2015, Walters, who had been drinking, thought he was about to meet a 13-year-old he had chatted to on social media site Badoo but Dark Justice were behind the profile.
After fleeing the scene when confronted, police later arrested him. Prosecutor Tom Moran told Newcastle Crown Court: “He said he would have told her how dangerous it could be to meet someone.”
The court heard during the online conversations, with the fictional 13-year-old, he asked if she “wanted some fun”, talked about sexual activities and asked her for photographs with “fewer clothes on”.
Walters, of Moor Street, Felling, Gateshead, was given 21 months suspended for two years with programme requirements. He must also sign the sex offenders register and abide by a sexual harm prevention order for seven years.
Judge Tim Gittins told him: “A legal argument was raised on your behalf in relation to the method by which your offending was detected, recorded and reported by the self styled Dark Justice group.
“The group purported to be a girl and told you she was 13 and that she had lied to get a profile on that website.
“That did not discourage you from inviting her for alcohol at yours and thereafter asking if she was interested in sex.
“You said you were going to warn her about the dangers of online behaviour and meeting strangers
“You recognise, in fact, in your state, you were the danger to that young person, had there been such a young girl.”