February 2018

Ronnie Argle jailed after being caught by paedophile hunters

An Ashford loner has been sent to prison after twice being trapped by self-styled paedophile hunters.

Jobless Ronnie Argle, 40, of Damara Way, was contacted by “Molly” saying she was a 14-year-old girl, but it was a trap.

Judge Rupert Lowe said although Argle had been provoked by the group’s contact “clearly he was willing to be provoked”.

Canterbury Crown Court heard how Argle began exchanging messages in April last year.

But in fact, he was talking with Scott Curtis, who prosecutor Paul Valder described as a “self-styled paedophile hunter.”

Mr Curtis claimed he contacted Argle, after being told he had been communicating with a 13-year-old on Facebook, asking to meet.

“Mr Curtis took it upon himself to use a Facebook account in the name of Molly White and added Argle as a friend.”

Mr Valder said Argle responded within five minutes, adding: “She told him she was 14 and lived in Canterbury and Argle asked what her parents would say if they knew they were talking. Argle then asked for a photograph.”

Argle received a picture of a young teenager, told her she was beautiful and he wished she was older.

During the online chat, Argle asked to meet in Ashford and gave her his phone number during talk about sex.

He asked her to delete the messages “so her mother wouldn’t see them.”

After a 150-minute talk Argle deleted “Molly” as a friend but police had already been alerted.

Argle also made contact with two girls he thought were aged 12, but they were a member of a vigilante group called Redemption, run by Victoria Curtis.

The group had tracked him by his links with a Dymchurch pub pool team.

He admitted making three attempts to communicate with a child for sexual gratification and got a 32 week sentence, was ordered to sign the Sex Offences Register for 10 years.