Heron Cross student sent indecent images of children
A business student sent indecent images of children to other men – while posing as a teenage girl online.
Matthew Gordon was arrested after police raided his house and seized his mobile phone, which was found to have the illegal images on it.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard how the 22-year-old told police he’d been sent the images when he set up social media accounts, pretending to be a teenager called Jessica. He said he was doing it in order to communicate online with straight men.
Gordon claimed he then decided to become a ‘paedophile hunter’ and send the images to men he was in contact with to try to ‘catch them out’ – although he never reported anyone to the police.
Prosecutor David Bennett said: “On September 1 last year, police executed a warrant at the defendant’s home address. A large amount of computer equipment and a mobile phone were seized and submitted for examination.
“Indecent images of children were recovered from his mobile phone. The images showed girls, some as young as four, but generally between six and 10.”
Gordon, of Willow Tree Grove, Heron Cross, pleaded guilty to three counts of possessing indecent images of children – 61 in total – and the distribution of indecent images.
The court heard the evidence of the latter charge came from Gordon’s police interview.
Mr Bennett said: “He explained he liked to converse with straight men via the internet. To do that, he had set up accounts on various social media sites, pretending to be a teenage girl called Jessica. He said he was gay, but not openly so.
“He said, during these online communications, people began sending him indecent photos of children, and that he didn’t realise they were automatically saved to his phone.
“He said he had seen a TV programme about vigilantes and he sent some images to men to try to catch them out. He thought he had sent them to three people at most.
“The people he was sending them to would say what they would like to do to the girls and he said he just went along with it. He said he was not sexually attracted to children.
“He said despite trying to catch people out he had not actually reported anyone to the police.”
The court heard Gordon was studying for a degree in business management and had no previous convictions.
Stuart Muldoon, mitigating, said: “At the time of this offending, he was struggling a great deal with his sexuality. It’s clear from the fact he set up a fantasy profile that he was living a fantasy life at the time.
“He went on to become what he believed was a paedophile hunter and thought he was doing some good. He clearly did not understand the seriousness of the offences. He is a very low risk of reoffending.”
Judge David Fletcher handed Gordon a 12-month community order, with a 21-day rehabilitation activity requirement, and ordered him to complete 140 hours of unpaid work.
He told Gordon: “You have single-handedly set out to wreck your life as a result of this behaviour. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. You have brought this on yourself and your family.”