Registered sex offender tried to groom eight-year-old girl online
A registered sex offender who tried to groom an eight-year-old girl online while her mother was in the bath has walked free from court after being found mentally unfit – for the second time in the space of a year.
Autistic Thomas Hagger, 28, approached the child through her mother’s account on the live streaming app Bigo after she asked to borrow her phone to watch YouTube videos.
He asked for photos of her wearing ‘Pocahontas knickers’ and tried to lure her onto Snapchat before sending a picture of his penis.
The girl’s horrified mother discovered the messages then posed as her child to carry on the chat and gather more evidence – which she passed on to a team of self-styled paedophile hunters called Internet Interceptors.
They cornered the suspect near his home in Epping, Essex, on September 15 last year and placed him under citizen’s arrest, while dialling 999.
During the confrontation, the group claimed they reported him to police that morning but were told officers were ‘too busy’ to come and arrest him and would not be able to respond for up to three days – despite Hagger having been put on the sex offenders register just three months earlier for trying to groom a 12-year-old girl.
The clash turned ugly when Hagger’s irate brother pulled up in a car and leapt to his defence, screaming at the paedophile hunters to leave him alone.
Hagger was arrested at the scene and charged with attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and breaching a sexual harm prevention order, but he was later deemed unfit to plead.
A jury at Chelmsford Crown Court found Hagger did commit the offences but the verdict was classed as a finding of fact rather than a finding of guilt due to his mental health difficulties.
He was handed a five-year sexual harm prevention order and a two-year supervision order on March 16. A restraining order was also imposed, preventing Hagger from having any contact with the victim.
Dramatic footage of his arrest – filmed live on Facebook – shows Hagger being approached by two women while out walking his dog.
When challenged, he claims he can barely remember speaking to the eight-year-old because he was ‘tired’ at the time.
A woman – named as Julie – shows him the explicit picture he sent and asks: ‘Do you think it’s acceptable to send that to what you believed was a child?’
He says ‘it’s not’ and insists: ‘I don’t like paedophiles at all.’
Julie replies: ‘But you are one, Thomas. You’ve asked for an eight-year-old in a pair of Pocahontas knickers and then you’ve sent an eight-year-old a penis picture. You need to be stopped. You can’t keep playing the mental health card.’
Hagger, who also claimed to suffer with dyspraxia – a brain disorder which affects motor function – admits to sending the picture and says he is ‘distraught’ by his actions.
Julie says: ‘You messed up big time because you spoke to the wrong mother. She, luckily enough, came to us.
‘I gave the police all of your information this morning. They’re not coming to get you until Sunday because they’re too busy.’
Hagger’s brother then turns up in a car and tries to grab the camera, shouting: ‘He’s autistic. Let the Old Bill do it.’
The suspect tries to get in his brother’s car but the women block him.
Julie then jumps in the front passenger seat to stop them from leaving and Hagger’s brother screams: ‘Get out of my f****** car.’
Police arrive a short while later and break up the slanging match before taking the suspect away in handcuffs.
The girl’s mother – who cannot be identified – said after the case: ‘I was in the bath no longer than 30 minutes.
‘I put my kids to bed and went on my phone to find messages from Thomas Hagger to my daughter.
‘He was asking her to come off the app and add him on Snapchat, after she told him she is only eight.
‘Four messages between him and my daughter were exchanged. She hadn’t read his last message where he asked if she had a bath or a shower.
‘I pretended to talk to him as her, he was asking if she could FaceTime him and get naughty, what her favourite underwear was and how he’d like to see it.
‘Within 20 minutes he had told her she was beautiful and sent a picture of his d***.
‘In the morning I contacted Internet Interceptors, they were amazing and tracked him down.
‘The police were going to leave him until Sunday – three more days of him talking to kids on the internet.’
Last June, Hagger was given a sexual harm prevention order for attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, attempting to cause a child to watch a sexual act and three counts of making indecent images of children, between 2012 and 2015.
Chelmsford Crown Court heard Hagger sent sexual messages to a 12-year-old girl on Facebook and was arrested after her stepfather called the police.
When officers searched Hagger’s computers they found the terms ‘pre-teen movies’, ‘teen chat’ and ‘chat sites for kids’ had been entered and there were 98 indecent images of children – eight from Category A.
He was judged mentally unfit to stand trial but a jury found he committed all the offences based on the evidence.
Waltham Abbey man with ‘significant’ mental health issues avoids jail for child sex offences
A man who attempted to get a 14-year-old girl to strip out of her school uniform while on Skype has avoided jail.
Thomas Hagger, 27, of Tillingham Court, Waltham Abbey, who has “significant mental health difficulties” was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday (June 2) after a jury found he had committed five child sex offences between January 2012 and June 2015.
He received a two year supervision order, which will be supervised by a probation officer.
Hagger will also spend five years on the sex offenders register and was given a five year sexual harm prevention order.
He also had to forfeit his computer, which was then destroyed.
Despite being deemed unfit to stand trial because of being a mentally-disordered offender, his case was put before a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court on Monday, May 8.
They found that Hagger had attempted to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, attempted to cause a child to watch a sexual act and had downloaded indecent images of children.
Before the prosecution evidence was delivered, it was explained to the jury they were there to make a finding of fact based on the evidence put before them, rather than a finding of guilt.
The court heard that the investigation into Hagger originally started in Wales, after police received a complaint that a man had attempted to encourage a 14-year-old girl to take her clothes off in a Skype chat on April 28, 2014.
Explaining the prosecution’s case against Hagger, Richard Kelly said: “In the chat, the defendant clearly believed the person he was chatting to was a young girl of school age.
“He asked her what she normally did on webcam. He said she looked ‘okay for 14’. She asked the defendant what he would have her do.
“He established that she was still in her school uniform, he asked her to slowly take off her uniform.”
Mr Kelly explained that the defendant received an attachment called “boobs.jpg” before the chat user revealed they were in fact not a 14-year-old girl, but a much older man who threatened to contact the police.
Then a year later Hagger engaged what he thought to be another young girl in conversation over Facebook, the court heard.
The 12-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had given her parents access to her social media accounts so they could check who she spoke to.
It was on May 2, 2015 that the girl’s stepfather saw a message from a Tom Hagger and began conversing with the account.
“The defendant asked if it was OK if he sent her a picture of his penis,” said Mr Kelly.
“When asked if he realised she was 12, he said he was and continued the messaging.”
It was at this point the victim’s stepfather took screenshots of the messages and the Facebook profile and contacted police.
During his first interview with police, Hagger denied being able to recall the explicit conversations, before later admitting he remembered it slightly.
When officers accessed Hagger’s computers they found various search terms had been used, including “teen chat”, “pre-teen movies” and “chat sites for kids”.
They also discovered the devices contained eight indecent images of children from Category A, the most serious category, 18 from Category B and 72 from Category C.
Owing to the unusual circumstances of the hearing, Hagger’s counsel, Julia Krish, gave no representations in regards to the evidence.
In summing up, Judge Patricia Lynch QC explained to the jury that “justice must be seen to be done”, and asked them to consider facts put before them to reach a conclusion.
After less than 20 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned unanimous decisions on all five counts that Hagger had committed the offences.