June 2017

Rugby player, 24, thought he was meeting schoolgirl, 13, for sex

A rugby player was caught by an online child protection group after he turned up a hotel expecting to meet a 13-year-old stranger he had talked to about sex.

Joe Snowdon thought he had been talking to a schoolgirl called Amanda, who he met on adult social networking Skout, before moving on to private chats over Whatsapp.

But the 24-year-old rugby player was caught out by Dark Justice, a group that sets up profiles to expose men who want sex with children.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that police had been alerted when Snowdon pulled up in the car park at the West Parade Hotel in Newcastle to meet the youngster and he was arrested by officers at the scene.

Snowdon has been suspended from his rugby club, where he played for ‘countless years’ and lost out on two job opportunities when potential employers heard.   

Snowdon, of Swalwell, Gateshead, said his online conversations were ‘all fantasy’ but later admitted attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity.

He has no previous convictions.  

Prosecutor Rachel Masters told the court the online conversations all took place in one day, on December 3 last year between Snowdon and a fake profile on Skout, that had been set up by members of Dark Justice.

Miss Masters said the chat was initially ‘friendly’, even after it was revealed that ‘Amanda’ was 13, not over 18 as it stated on her profile.

The court heard mobile telephone numbers were exchanged so that the conversation could continue on Whatsapp, where Snowdon told ‘Amanda’ ‘you’re cute’.

Miss Masters added: ‘At his point, the defendant’s conversation started to turn to a sexual nature.

‘He said “would you like to kiss me” and the messages got more explicit, such as “I want to take your V” and making suggestions of meeting up.’

The court heard within hours a meeting was arranged and Snowdon was arrested when he turned up to it.

Before he set off, Snowdon had sent a message saying he was nervous and that he was ‘taking a big risk to meet up’.

Judge Sarah Mallett told him: ‘You knew in your heart of hearts you ought to have stopped it even then, but you didn’t.

‘You were arrested at the meeting place.’

The judge said she accepted Snowdon was ‘appalled and disgusted’ by his own behaviour and that he is susceptible to intervention which would be in the interests of himself and the public in future.

Judge Mallett sentenced Snowdon to a community order for three years and said he must sign the sex offenders register for seven years.