March 2018

Groomer thought he was meeting 14-year-old girl

A Huddersfield man was caught by paedophile hunters after he travelled to Barnsley station intending to meet up with a 14-year-old girl.

Gavin Bedford, who had previously been cautioned for having sex with a 15-year-old girl, was detained at the station after a fictitious online profile was set up by the Parents Against Paedophiles group.

The profile posted on a social media site indicated that the female was 18, but after Bedford made contact with the “girl” he was told that she was only 14 and asked if he still wanted to speak to her.

Prosecutor Michael Smith told Bradford Crown Court that Bedford said he didn’t mind about her age and the online chat between them became sexual.

“The defendant discussed meeting with her and talked about kissing and cuddling her,” said Mr Smith.

“The defendant spoke about having sex with her and the chat became progressively more sexual in nature.”

Mr Smith said Bedford, of Whitestone Lane, Fartown , asked for pictures of her in her underwear and encouraged her to perform a sexual act.

The 26-year-old told the “girl” he had recently split up from his wife and suggested she could move in with him when she was 16.

Mr Smith said they arranged to meet in Barnsley on December 1 last year, but when he arrived Bedford was detained and then arrested by the police.

When he was interviewed by police Bedford claimed that the “girl” never told him she was 14 and said he believed she was 19.

In January Bedford pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming and the court heard that he had already spent the nearly four months in prison on remand.

Mr Smith noted that in a pre-sentence report Bedford had laid the blame for the offending on the “girl” who he suggested had essentially “pestered him for sex”.

But Mr Smith said the chat messages indicated that Bedford had been “the driving force” not the fictitious complainant.

Bedford will have to comply with a programme addressing sexual offending as part of a rehabilitation activity requirement and he will also have to do 150 hours unpaid work for the community.

He will also have to register as a sex offender with the police for the next 10 years and be monitored under a sexual harm prevention order for the same period of time.