January 2018

Man snared by paedophile hunters is only told by judge not to contact underage girls on the internet

A 35-year-old Calderdale man who was involved in Facebook sex chats with members of a paedophile hunting group posing as under-age girls has avoided prison.

But Christopher Watts has been banned from contacting any females under 16 via the internet for 15 years and given a community order to tackle his behaviour.

Members of the group called Sub Division Hunters alerted police to Christopher Watts’ activities last October when they turned up to confront him about the conversations he had been having with four of their “decoys”.

Prosecutor Stephen Wood told Bradford Crown Court that the aim of the group was to trap paedophiles into thinking they were talking to children.

“Those posing as children post decoy profiles in which the age of the child is made clear,” said Mr Wood.

“Once the decoy is contacted they always quickly state the child’s age. They do not seek contact nor do they incite sexualised conversations.”

Watts, who lives with his mother at Concrete Street, Lee Mount, Halifax , had no previous convictions and the court heard that he suffered from various psychological problems.

After his arrest Watts accepted contacting the “children”, said to be aged 13 or 14, but said he was lonely and wanted someone to talk to.

“The defendant accepted the sexualised conversations, but said that he would never have gone to meet anyone,” said Mr Wood.

Watts pleaded guilty to four charges of attempting to engage in sexual communications with youngsters.

Judge Colin Burn read a psychological report on Watts and barrister Ian Howard described his client as someone who was “very vulnerable in his own right.”

Mr Howard added: “To all intents and purposes Mr Watts doesn’t really function like the rest of us. The prospect of incarceration is one that absolutely fills him with dread.”

Judge Burn said Watts’ sexual advances toward the “children” were partly explained by his character and “the psychological disadvantages” that he had.

“You need to understand that what happened on these occasions is completely unacceptable,” the judge told Watts.

As part of the two-year community order Watts must comply with a 33-day accredited programme run by the probation service and he will also have to register as a sex offender with the police for the next five years.

Judge Burn also imposed a 15-year sexual harm prevention order which bans Watts from contacting any females under 16 via the internet.

He told Watts that the order was designed to ensure he didn’t get involved in offending of this type in the future.