September 2017

Hampshire man caught in anti-paedophile sting operation – but he walks free from court

A 55-year-old man has been given a suspended prison sentence after he was caught attempting to groom under-age girls in sting operations by two separate groups of online child protection teams

Mark Gaudion pleaded guilty to two charges of attempting to engage in sexual communications with a child and a count of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.

Dawn Hyland, prosecuting, told Winchester Crown Court that Gaudion had contacted the fake profile of a girl called Becksy Baby on the online dating website Waplog.

She said the profile had been set up by a vigilante group called Predator Hunters and clearly stated the age of the girl was 14.

Ms Hyland said that the defendant sent 57 messages to the profile, including an explicit photograph.

She said that Gaudion went on to arrange for the girl to come to stay at his home but at the rendezvous in April he was confronted by four members of the group Predator Hunters, and the police were called to arrest him.

Ms Hyland said that when police searched his home, they found that Gaudion, of Bordon, had engaged in similar online conversations with another fake profile, a 13-year-old girl called Amy, set up by a different group called Dark Justice.

Judge Jane Miller QC sentenced Gaudion to 15 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years and ordered him to carry out 200 hours of community service. He was also ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register and was made subject to a sexual harm prevention order.

She told him: “This is your first offence, you are clearly a man with difficulties and I believe you deserve at least one chance.

“I think you need some help to understand what you have done so you do not do it again.”