September 2018

Accountant caught by paedophile hunters thought he was having sex chat with schoolboys

An accountant who engaged in sex chat with what he believed to be three children on a dating app had fallen into a trap set by paedophile hunters.

Marc Keating spoke to what he thought were boys aged 13 and 14 on Grindr, a court heard.

The 26-year-old engaged in sexual conversation with the decoy profiles, including asking one if he was a virgin and suggesting intimate acts they could take part in.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Keating has been sacked for gross misconduct from the firm where he had qualified as a senior accountant.

Now he has been given a suspended prison sentence and unpaid work after he admitted three offences of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.

Prosecutor Michael Bunch said: “The prosecution case is in a period of just over one week, from the end of May until early June (last year), he engaged in sexual conversation with three decoy profiles set up by an organisation known as Guardians of the North on dating app Grindr.”

The court heard during the illegal conversations, Keating had sent pictures which revealed his true identity and supplied his phone number.

Mr Bunch added: “The organisation carried out a search of his mobile phone number on Facebook and that brought up details about him.

“The images on his profile matched those that had been sent to the decoy. The police were contacted.”

Keating, of Marwell Drive, Washington, was sentenced to six months, suspended for two years and must do 120 hours unpaid work.

He must also sign the sex offenders’ register and abide by a sexual harm prevention order for seven years.

Recorder Margia Mostafa told him: “You engaged, in a period of just over a week, in three explicit conversations with three profiles of boys who you believed to be 13 and 14.

“I have seen those conversations, they are highly sexual conversations. They also talk about swapping photographs, engaging in sexual activity and possibly meeting.”

The judge said Keating has never been in trouble before and hopes to be able to work as an accountant again.