July 2018

Man, 70, caught grooming ‘teenager’ in paedophile sting

A great-grandfather who had sexually explicit online conversations with a person he believed to be a 14-year-old girl has been jailed.

Frederick Cottom, 70, was caught in a sting by a paedophile hunters group and shamed on social media, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

He thought he was talking to a teenager but in reality he had fallen for a fake profile set up by the vigilante group.

Cottom, of Longshaw Street, Warrington, was jailed for 12 months.

He pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a girl under 16 following grooming.

Judge Andrew Menary, QC, said: “You engaged in explicit conversations with someone you knew was significantly underage despite the very considerable age difference.

“You encouraged her to behave in a sexual way online and to meet up with her in the hope there would be some sexual activity involving the two of you.”

The judge added: “It is a personal tragedy that you find yourself in this position.”

Ken Grant, prosecuting, said the offence took place between 5 April and 18 April this year after Cottom began conversations on the KIK chat room.

The Hunting for Justice group had set up a fake profile and Cottom indulged in explicit chats and also sent explicit photographs of himself.

He arranged to meet the girl in King Street, Newton-le-Willows, but when he turned up he was confronted by members of the group who live streamed the meeting on social media.

Michael Hagerty, defending, said Cottom had never been in trouble before and said he had “lost everything”.

“He has lost his marriage, his accommodation, his liberty. He has also lost his dignity and self-respect,” the barrister said.

The court was told Cottom was remorseful and ashamed of his behaviour.

He was also made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for five years and was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.