Paedophile hunters confront chef after he sent sexual messages to ’14-year-old girl’
A paedophile hunting group confronted a chef while he was working at a pub after he had sent sexual messages to who he thought was a 14-year-old girl.
Steven Baker, 52, contacted a profile on a chatroom which purported to belong to an underage teenager but was in fact run by a member of the One Reason group.
Despite the decoy telling the defendant that they were a 14-year-old girl on a number of occasions, Baker continued to chat with the account holder.
The conversation started out with him asking about the 14-year-old’s home life and problems in school before telling her he wanted to cuddle her before it escalating to a sexual nature and asking if they could meet up.
Baker was then confronted at his workplace the Deri Inn, in Nelson, Caerphilly, on June 17 by members of One Reason who filmed the confrontation and live streamed it on their Facebook account, which has since been viewed 49,000 times.
Upon his arrest, his home address in Caerphilly was searched and police found indecent images of children, including category A images – the most serious – on a tablet and laptop.
A sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court heard that Baker first contacted the decoy account and made no attempt to end the conversation when he was told her age.
Prosecutor Gareth James said: “On June 4 the decoy account was contacted by the defendant. The account indicated the female was 18-years-old but when the defendant began chatting the decoy said they were only 14 and that was said on numerous occasions as the defendant continued to communicate.
“In this case there was chatting back and forth, discussions about family matters, problems she may have been having and brought in suggestions that he liked her, that she looked cute and wanting to cwtch and cuddle her.
“Matters progressed to a sexual nature and the defendant became more sexual in what he was suggesting to her and he suggested they should meet up. He also sent images of himself masturbating to her and suggested she could do the same.”
When Baker told the decoy where he worked, they arrived at the pub and placed him under citizens arrest before calling the police and streaming a video online where they asked the defendant why he carried out the offences.
Once arrested, Baker admitted to police there were indecent images of children on his black Vodafone tablet and a laptop he owned.
In total, police found 33 category A images and one film, 34 category B images and three films and 214 category C images and two films.
Baker later pleaded guilty to attempting to engage in sexual communications with a child and three counts of making indecent images.
Defence barrister Claire Pickthall said Baker had lost his accommodation as a result of the exposure on the One Reason live stream and was now homeless.
She said: “His mental health has been affected since the arrest and things have spiralled out of control since then.”
Passing sentence, Judge Geraint Walters criticised the paedophile hunting group for filming Baker’s arrest and publicising it as his lack of accommodation prevented the court from passing a more “onerous” community order which would help to rehabilitate the defendant.
He said: “The vigilante group, having discovered where you worked through the chatlogs, turned up at your place of work and whilst there they engaged in a spectacle which they filmed trying to obtain maximum publicity for what they do and to have the greatest impact upon you.
“I am bound to observe that ideally it should be the police dealing with offenders like you and not members of the public who seek to take the law in their own hands, they must take care not to fall foul of the law themselves.
“I decry the practice of uploading videos on to social media of the arrests in these cases. These people should realise the courts do not approve of that sort of spectacle and because of that spectacle you (Baker) have lost everything. You have lost your home and everybody knows what you have done.
“In this case a judge would want to consider whether the best sentence for an offender is an onerous community order designed to deal with internet sexual offences which in many cases works but I can’t even consider that in your case because of the conduct of the vigilante group which means you are completely homeless and have to start from scratch again.”
Baker, of no fixed abode, was sentenced to eight months imprisonment.
He was also made subject to a sexual harm prevention order and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.
Speaking after the hearing, a spokesperson from One Reason said they were “appalled” at Baker’s sentence.