May 2018

Man caught in ‘paedophile hunter’ sting after arranging to meet ‘girl’ is spared jail

A man was caught in a ‘paedophile hunter’ sting operation after he arranged to meet a decoy posing as a 15-year-old girl at a tram station.

Simon Ramsden-Smith, 54, initiated a conversation with the ‘girl’ in an online chatroom.

Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court heard how the conversation became sexual, even though Ramsden-Smith was aware she was aged 15 and he had seen her photo.

One message read, “Are you wearing any underwear?” with another asking whether the girl was naked.

Other messages contained more graphic sexual content, and he also asked: “Will you f*** me.”

After several exchanges he then sent the decoy a photo of his penis.

Ramsden-Smith then arranged to meet the decoy the next day, on 12 April, this year, at the Brooklands tram stop in Sale, Greater Manchester.

But waiting for him were a group of paedophile hunters from the North West Predator Hunters.

Ramsden-Smith was filmed by the group as he sat in his car near the station, with the footage live streamed on Facebook.

He can be seen in the video – which has been viewed more than 88,000 times – denying contacting or meeting other young girls and apologising for his actions.

Ramsden-Smith, of Harcourt Street, Stockport, pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a girl under 16 following grooming at an earlier hearing.

He was handed a three-year community order and ordered to attend a probation-service approved programme for 60 hours.

He will also be required to attend 20 days community rehabilitation as part of his sentencing.

The judge, Mr Recorder JMA Murray, said the sentence was “not meant to be a let off” but was a way of Ramsden-Smith reintegrating himself back into the community.

He’d been kept in custody since his arrest for his own safety, the court heard.