January 2018

Ex school bus driver and groundsman jailed after ‘paedophile hunter’ child sex trap

A FORMER public school groundsman was jailed after he tried to meet a 14-year-old girl for sex, only to find he had been caught in a sting by a vigilante group.

Stephen Painter, of Spareacre Lane, Eynsham, used a dating website to message a fake profile, set up by a ‘paedophile-hunting group’ who trapped him in a car park in Leeds before the arranged meeting.

The disgraced gardener, who was previously a bus driver for students in West Oxfordshire and went on to be a groundsman for Cokethorpe School in Hardwick near Witney, arrived in Yorkshire had lubricant, condoms and vodka with him when arrested.

Jonathan Stone, prosecuting, explained to Oxford Crown Court on Tuesday how Painter, using his profile ‘ziggyziggy56’ messaged the fake account run by Net Justice through waplog.com in September last year.

The decoy account, with the name ‘Emma’, immediately told him she was 14 while Painter claimed to be 26.

The conversation between the pair moved from waplog.com to Whatsapp. During the conversations there was a reference to an 11-year-old having sex, and other sexual references.

She told him she was at school and lived in Leeds and Painter booked a room at a Travelodge just outside Bradford for October 23.

A member of Net Justice found Painter in Leeds on that day at around 3pm. When he saw members of the group he tried to drive away but was blocked in by one of the vigilante’s cars.

During the interaction, which was streamed on Facebook Live, Painter, who had a bag of alcohol, said the meeting had been a mistake.

On Tuesday, Painter was jailed for 18 months and made the subject of a 10-year sexual harm prevention order. He was also ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

Lyall Thompson, defending, told the judge that Painter, who appeared via videolink from HMP Bullingdon, had lost his job since admitting a charge of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming at the same court on November 24 last year.

He said: “The best feature of the mitigation in this case is that Mr Painter is 61 years old and has worked in close proximity to children, having driven school buses and worked as a groundsmen.

“He has committed no other offences like this in 61 years.”

Mr Thompson added: “Through his own stupidity in committing an offence such as this he has made massive consequences for himself, for his family and for his employment.”

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