September 2017

Pervert, 61, is snared by paedophile hunters

A pervert was snared by paedophile hunters after arranging to meet a 13-year-old girl and asking her to share a bath with him. 

Lawrence Johnson, 61, from Newcastle, engaged in sexual conversations on social media with a profile he thought belonged to underage girl called Megan.

The fake account had been set up by vigilante group Guardians of the North, who pose as teenagers online to expose people looking for sex with children.

He was confronted by members of the group after organising to meet the youngster at the Centre for Life in Newcastle.

In a video captured by the Guardians, one of the members asks Johnson: ‘Have you heard of Guardians of the North?’ to which he replies ‘Yes’.

Johnson told ‘Megan’ he wanted to share a bath with her, and also asked her if she would like to perform sexual acts on him, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Paul Rowland said: ‘This offence came about as a consequence of an operation by a group known as Guardians of the North. They effectively patrol the internet and set up fake profiles.

‘On July 15 Megan was contacted by the defendant, known as Lar Johnson, and he introduced himself.

‘About three days later they engaged in general chit-chat.

‘The defendant made a comment about Megan’s profile picture saying it was nice and sexy.

‘He asked her to go drinking with him in Newcastle.

‘The conversation became sexual. He asked if she was a virgin. He asked her if she would perform sexual acts on him.’

Mr Rowland told the court how the Johnson asked the girl if he could meet her on August 22.

He said: ‘The defendant accepts that he was intent on meeting this 13-year-old girl.’

Johnson pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming and attempting to cause a female over the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity.

During his sentencing hearing on Wednesday, Johnson appeared via videolink to HMP Durham.

Richard Bloomfield, defending, said: ‘Although his offending was risky and reckless he is not a predatory paedophile.

‘He is a man of good character. He is someone who has been swept up in this operation.

‘There was an element of attempting the impossible because the child did not exist.’

Judge Stephen Earl sentenced Johnson to a three year community order.

Judge Earl told him: ‘You embarked on conversation that was wholly inappropriate.

‘On August 22 you arranged to meet at the Centre For Life and you were captured. It is fair to say that you have fully cooperated with the police.

‘You have reached the age of 61 with no criminal records.’

Johnson was ordered to take part ina 50 day rehabilitation requirement and abide by a sexual harm prevention order.

He must also sign the sex offenders register for the next five years and take part in a group work programme for sexual offenders.