March 2018

Man snared by ‘paedophile hunter’ on dating app

A 55-YEAR-OLD man who was snared by a ‘paedophile hunter’ on a dating app has been sent to prison for 12 months.

Gary Curran, of Kershaw Way, Newton-le-Willows was “fooled” by a man, who is a member of a group called Hunting for Justice, into believing he was meeting a 14-year-old girl for sex.

Curran had made contact with a profile named ‘Alex’ on dating app Oasis before swapping phone numbers and he arranged to meet the ‘girl’ at Earlestown railway station on Saturday, January 20.

Under the guise of the profile, the man had told Curran they were home schooled because of “social care circumstances”.

Prosecutor Paul Blasbery said: “The profile included a picture of a young looking female when it was actually a picture of a girl (the man) knew who had given their consent.

“The messages were described as very sexual, they were of a graphic sexual nature.

“He stated he was home schooled but it didn’t appear to discourage the defendant.

“Early on in the messages the defendant requested that they meet up but it was eventually agreed they meet at a train station in Earlestown.”

After the man then approached Curran, who was in a white van, and told him who he was, the defendant “got out of the van and had his head in his hands the whole time stating ‘I’m sorry’,” added Mr Blasbery.

Curran was detained and then arrested after police were called.

Curran, who has eight previous convictions for non-related offences including theft, indicated a guilty plea of attempting to meet a girl under 16 following grooming at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on January 22.

Passing sentence at Liverpool Crown Court, judge Denis Watson QC said to Curran: “You said at times you were drunk but as you observed in the pre-sentence report when you went to Earlestown station you weren’t drunk.

“You’ve got a previous record for other offences but they aren’t similar offences.”

He added: “This is not a completed offence, you didn’t meet a child, only because you were effectively fooled into believing it was.”

The judge said he deemed the starting point for the offence “balancing aggravating and mitigating features” was an 18-month prison sentence and that its “severity” made a suspended sentence “impossible”.

Judge Watson said: “You are entitled to credit for your plea making a reduced sentence of 12 months.”