January 2018

Pervert, 21 snared by paedophile hunters for the second time after

A paedophile has been spared jail despite being caught sending explicit messages to what he thought was a teenage girl while on bail for a similar offence.

Daniel Smith thought he had been chatting online to a youngster called ‘Zoe’ in November 2015 but had been duped by Dark Justice, an undercover organisation that poses as children on the internet to snare predators.

When the now 21-year-old, of Hebburn, Tyne and Wear, turned up to meet the 13-year-old at Times Square in Newcastle, after sending a series of illicit messages, asking for ‘naughty photographs’ and carrying a bottle of gin for them to share, he was confronted by members of the organisation, who had alerted the police.

Smith, who had been repeatedly told ‘Zoe’s’ tender age during the chats, was arrested and allowed to keep his freedom while his case progressed through the crown court.

While on bail, Smith then started another series of online conversations with who he thought was a 14-year-old girl called ‘Louise’ but had once again been duped.

This time, the underage profile had been set up by Guardians of the North, a similar group of paedophile hunters.

No meeting was arranged but Smith asked again if they could meet up, requested photographs and described in graphic detail what he would like to do with the child.

Smith pleaded guilty to two offences of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming and one of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity.

Judge Tim Gittins told him: ‘At a time when you were on bail and should have been on your best behaviour by way of any social interaction with any female at all, you chose to engage with a profile on another site.’

At Newcastle Crown Court, Judge Gittins sentenced Smith to a community order for three years with sex offender treatment programme requirements.

Smith must sign the sex offenders register for five years and abide by the terms of a sexual harm prevention order for seven years.

The judge said intervention, as opposed to a prison sentence, was appropriate in Smith’s case in a bid to reduce the risk he currently poses to children.