June 2018

Roofer snared by paedophile hunters at rail station

A pervert who was snared by paedophile hunters when he went to meet what he thought was a 13-year-old girl, has been spared jail.

Bradford Crown Court heard how 52-year-old Ian Kershaw, saw the girl’s profile on the Qeep social media app in January.

Prosecutor Nick Askins said the person behind the profile “Ali Smith”, was actually a member of the group Parents Against Paedophiles, using a photo of herself as a 15-year-old.

The same day Kershaw, of Odsal Road, Bradford, made contact asking where “Ali” was in the country, and in her second reply, she said she was 13

Mr Askins told the court that “a series of sexually explicit messages” followed.

He offered to give her “sex lessons” and asked if she wanted to be his girlfriend.

“He also asked if she wanted to spend the night at his home in Wibsey when they met,” said Mr Askins.

He gave “Ali” his mobile number and they continued to text, arranging to meet at Huddersfield Train Station on January 13.

When Kershaw arrived he approached “Ali” who was with other members of Parents Against Paedophiles and they carried out a citizens arrest.

In interview he told police he had “no intention of taking the girl to his house and had in fact intended to tell her to go home”.

“He said he probably had sent the messages when drunk and had read them when sober, but had still gone to the meeting,” said Mr Askins.

Kershaw pleaded guilty to attempting to groom a girl under the age of 16 and to attempting to incite a girl, aged 13, to engage in sexual activity.

Rodney Ferm, for Kershaw, said he had already spent four months in custody on a further initial charge, which the prosecution did not pursue.

He described Kershaw as an “isolated” man who worked as a roofer and cared for his mother.

“In some ways it reflects the isolation and desperation of this man – this was a very serious thing to do,” he said.

Judge David Hatton QC sentenced Kershaw to a three year community order, with a requirement to carry out rehabilitation activity, including a program to address his sexual offending. He was also made the subject of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and must register as a sex offender for five years.

The judge said that in this instance no harm took place, as the person Kershaw was communicating with did not exist.

He added: “What is troublesome is that you have sought to communicate with and meet a person you erroneously believed existed and who you erroneously believed was a child.

“That is troublesome and needs to be addressed.”