Pervert caught by paedophile hunters
A sex offender caught by an online child protection team has escaped jail after a judge said HE was “the nearest thing to a victim”.
Mark Presley offered to meet what he thought was a 13-year-old girl on Blackpool pier, but was instead exposed by a group of paedophile hunters.
“The Innocence Keepers” snared the Elvis obsessed 49-year-old, who claims to be a devout Christian, after he said he wanted to have sex with the teen.
But after he admitted attempting to incite a girl aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity Judge Andrew Woolman said there were “no real victims” in the case.
He told Preston Crown Court Presley had “suffered already” due to his disability, Cerebral Ataxia.
He gave the bachelor a three year community order saying the sentence was the “best way to helping society at large”.
The judge added he had suffered bullying and has been the victim of hate crimes, adding “he is desperate for any company”.
He concluded: “The defendant himself is a vulnerable and pathetic individual and is clearly very distressed.
”But there were no real children in this case – both the Facebook profiles were created by the Innocence Group who seek to catch sexual offenders by creating such profiles.
“It’s suggested he’s not attracted to young girls but just wants their company. I’m not entirely convinced but if he did meet a real girl no sexual activity would have taken place because of the defendant’s personality.
“These are attempted offences and not actual offences. To say he’s a pathetic figure is an understatement.”
The group carried out the sting on the pier on October 28 last year, before he was arrested.
He thought he would be meeting a 13-year-old girl, and had been asked to carry a stick of rock.
Facebook correspondence before the meeting had begun months earlier when Presley sent a friend request to a girl he believed to be 13
Prosecutor Emma Kehoe said: “Beginning with a conversation about her life and what she was interested in it moved to boys and whether she had a boyfriend. She told the defendant she was too young but he told her he found her attractive and he would like to hold her.
“The decoy reminded the defendant that she was at school and only 13 years of age but he ignored the facts and suggested they met in Blackpool.
“At the same time the defendant was talking to the decoy he was also in exchange with another profile called Samantha, set up by the group again, the profile indicated the girl was 13 and again the chat between the defendant and that profile was almost identical.
“It all culminated in there being an arrangement with the defendant meeting the decoy because he found her attractive. ”
The court heard Presley – who has been in custody since his arrest – had previously been convicted of sex offences in 1990 and was given a probation order.
He rocked back and forth in the dock cradling his head and sucked his thumb as defence lawyer Paul Robinson told the hearing: “He’s expressed his remorse not only by his guilty plea but in written letters.
“He’s dealt with emotional abuse and bullying. He has been the victim of disability hate crime in his adulthood and has found it difficult to maintain age-appropriate relationships and has ended up trawling the internet and latching on to the profiles of these two girls.
“He has ongoing medical difficulties which he’s experienced from a very, very early age.”
It emerged Presley had previous convictions for gross indecency and indecent assault dating back to when he was 22.
Presley himself told the court: “I would like to say I’m sorry for putting people through this mess, I’m totally sorry. I want somebody to shut my Facebook account down.”
He will have to sign the Sex Offender Register, and abide by the terms of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years.
Man arrested in Blackpool following anti-paedophile group sting pleads guilty to sexual offences