August 2018

Northampton man sacked by Home Office convicted of grooming after paedophile hunter sting

Home Office advisor from Northampton has avoided a prison sentence after he was caught by paedophile hunters attempting to groom a young girl

Gary Hodgkiss, 48, was filmed as he arrived in a Manchester car park in June to meet what he believed to be a 12-year-old girl.

The sting, which cost Hodgkiss his transition manager job with the Government department, was live streamed by online group Dark Light.

During the video, the team tell Hodgkiss that he messaged them on his way to the car park “about getting a hotel room and spending a night” with a 12-year-old girl.

However, the girl was infact an adult from online child protection team ‘Soloceptors’ who pose online as children to catch sexual predators. 

On behalf of team ‘Soloceptors’, Dark Light confronted Hodgkiss and questioned him on his internet activity. They rang the police who swiftly arrested him.

Hodgkiss was convicted of grooming a child, of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and for possessing indecent images/movies of a child.

When the police analysed his internet devices, they found several hundred indecent images and movies of children covering all levels of indecency.

Featured on those videos and images were infants and toddlers being orally raped or tortured. The children were in clear distress, and could be seen or heard crying or screaming.

At Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court, Judge Bernadette Baxter handed Hodgkiss a sentence of 20 months suspended for two years.

He will be on the sex offenders register for 10 years and was given a sexual harm prevention order.

A spokesman from Dark Light and Soloceptors said: “We are extremely appalled and disgusted at the leniant sentence today. There has been no justice for those poor children who have had to endure a horrendous ordeal for the sexual gratification of these people. This is a perfect example of the system failing.”

He added: “Anyone found in possession of such images should face a mandatory and lengthy custodial sentence to act as a deterrent and help to eradicate the sick demand for such images or videos.”