November 2017

Man arrested in Blackpool following anti-paedophile group sting pleads guilty to sexual offences

A man who was arrested following a sting operation by an anti-paedophile group on Blackpool’s North Pier has pleaded guilty to sexual offences.

Mark Presley, 49, of Edmonton Place, Bispham, was arrested on North Pier on October 28 after police were contacted by the online group.

They claimed the man, who members of the group confronted, thought he was meeting a teenage girl.

Officers turned up at the scene and arrested Presley following the tip off.

He appeared at Preston Crown Court by video link and admitted attempting to incite a girl aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity, and attempting to meet a girl following grooming.

One of the group members has revealed how Elvis-obsessed Presley sent her video and songs of his idol, believing she was 13, before the conversation turned sexual.

She said: “He was a bit of an unusual one because he actually followed all the anti paedophile groups Facebook pages, including us, and even wrote on our wall saying:’How can I help?’

“It was a blatant attempt to make it look like he supported our cause. “He popped up on one of our decoy online accounts, having added what he believed to be a 13-year-old girl as a friend.

“He was sending the decoy Elvis clips and I had to pretend I’d never heard of him.

“He was a very slow groomer, I’d been talking to him for a number of months before he turned graphic.

“It was probably to gain trust. “He was saying things like: ‘Please stay safe online, I want to keep you safe.’

“At first even I thought he might be harmless, until his language changed.

“We’re very pleased at today’s pleas.

“Our evidence is solid – we don’t just knock on people’s doors and point cameras at them.”