August 2018

Cyber creep who groomed ’13-year-old girl’ snared by paedophile hunters

A pervert from Runcorn wept in the dock as he was spared prison for sexually grooming someone he thought was a ‘13-year-old girl’ online – only to be snared in a paedophile-hunter sting.

Craig Moores, 26, made contact with supposed teenager ‘Jessica Logan’ via Facebook on May 2 this year and swiftly steered the conversation in a sexual direction as the exchange switched to text messages and the encrypted social networking service WhatsApp.

Prosecutor Simon Parry told Chester Crown Court that Moores started out by asking for her number and for images of “Jessica” and Moores also sent her one of himself.

“Jessica”, in reality an adult paedophile hunter working for the Justice 4 Kids group, told Moores she was 13 years old but that ‘didn’t put him off’, and the explicit nature of his requests escalated, including asking for a picture of her performing a sex act and asking if she would have sex with him.

He also sent an indecent picture of himself.

Moores arranged to meet “Jessica” on May 19 at 11am at McDonald’s on West Lane in Runcorn, but was confronted by members of the group Moores and placed under citizen’s arrest to await the police’s arrival.

He told police his ‘head was messed up’ and made admissions.

On July 5 he pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a child after sexual grooming, trying to engage in sexual communication with a child, and attempting to cause a child to watch sexual activity.

Bearded Moores, of Limekiln Row, Castlefields, sobbed when William Staunton spoke in his defence, describing him as ‘lonely and inadequate’ with learning difficulties and “poor self-esteem”.

Judge Roger Dutton said the probation service had advised imposing a community order but he said the offences were ‘too serious’, and instead he sentenced Moores to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years, in addition to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, 7pm-6am curfew and 10 years on the sex-offenders register.

Moores was also slapped with a 35-day rehabilitation requirement intended to deal with his behaviour, which the judge said ‘needs to be tackled now’, adding that if Moores went to prison, he would be out in six months ‘with nothing being done at all’ to address the specific nature of his offending.

Recorder Dutton said: “What you attempted to do was to meet with the ambition of having some sexual encounter with a 13-year-old girl.

“You know perfectly well that that’s wrong.

“You cultivated a friendship on the internet and you arranged what you thought was going to be the ultimate sexual encounter by meeting that young person.

“The reality was there never was a young person, you were caught by a paedophile investigation group.

“This is a serious matter because of your intentions.”

He added: “If it had not been a paedophile investigation group, this would have been a child, there would have been contact and who knows what would have happened?”