January 2018

Man who was pretending to be 15 was trapped by paedophile hunters

A man who thought he was engaged in sexual conversations with two 13-year-old girls was caught by paedophile hunters.

At Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court Billy Nottingham was given a suspended prison sentence after Judge Maurice Greene was told that he did not arrange to meet the ‘girls’ and has already spent seven weeks in custody.

Neil Beckwith, prosecuting, told the court that two groups of paedophile hunters set up chatroom account profiles in the made up names of Ellie Palmer and Amy Thornton and between March and April last year were involved in conversations with 38-year-old Nottingham, who was pretending to be aged 15.

The court heard that Nottingham made comments about their bodies and, when communicating with ‘Ellie’, encouraged her to commit a sex act.

However, Mr Beckwith stressed that no images were exchanged over the three week period the conversations took place and, although meeting was discussed, no arrangements were made.

The paedophile hunters informed police about the conversations and he was arrested.

“When the matters were put to him he accepted what had happened,” said Mr Beckwith.

Nottingham, of Topping Fold Road, Bury, told police that he had had an interest in schoolgirls for the previous four years.

In court he pleaded guilty to attempting to entice a child to engage in sexual activity and two counts of attempting to communicate with a child to obtain sexual gratification.

Mr Beckwith said Nottingham has no previous convictions although he does have two previous cautions for burglary.

Sentencing Nottingham to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months, Judge Greene told him: “No child was put at risk at all in this case. There was no actual attempt to meet. In this particular case the sentence can be suspended.”

Nottingham was also ordered to participate in 20 days of rehabilitation activities, placed on the sex offenders’ register for seven years and made subject to a sexual harm prevention order. He is banned from working with children and vulnerable adults.