November 2018

Paedophile hunter caught groomer trying to meet a 15-year-old boy

A freelance paedophile hunter successfully trapped a groomer who was led to believe he was meeting a 15-year-old boy.

The sex offender even asked the boy to meet him where he worked so they could engage in oral sex.

Mark Jenkins began speaking to who he thought was a teenager on popular dating app Grindr – he was drawn to a user whose profile name was ‘Now’.

But the profile he messaged was actually a decoy set up by a paedophile hunter.

The decoy told Jenkins that he was only 15 – but this did not deter the sex offender.

The interactions between the two accounts led to Jenkins being arrested after police arrived at his place of work.

The hunter created a decoy account with a stock photo of a 15-year-old boy.

Then, on September 27 last year, Jenkins messaged the account.

The communication between the two continued and they arranged to meet up while Jenkins was on his lunch break.

The 43-year-old even told the decoy how to get into the building in High Street, Epping, how he would be on a break and that the sexual activity would take place in the stock room.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard how Jenkins sent the first message to the fake profile by saying ‘Hello’, with the decoy replying that he was 15 years old.

This didn’t dissuade Jenkins, who then responded with: “You could get me into a lot of trouble.”

When asked what he would want to do, the pervert listed a string of sexual activities.

The meeting was then arranged, with the defendant believing the 15-year-old lived above one of the shops on High Street.

It was Jenkins who suggested the ‘boy’ came to see him; he shared his location and gave instructions on how to get into the premises.

Jenkins sent photos of himself and of the lower half of his body in underwear.

After the meeting was scheduled, the freelance paedophile hunter called police and met with them near Jenkins’ place of work.

The decoy showed them pictures of the defendant that had been sent to him and provided a transcript of messages.

When police entered the building, they identified Jenkins and asked to see his mobile phone.

He said “no” and reached his arm into a cupboard before officers grabbed hold of him – they discovered that he was reaching for his phone.

Jenkins was arrested and taken to a Harlow police station that day.

While in custody he made two phone calls, he was overheard saying in the first call, “It was just general messages, it’s nothing.”

But later, when he was on the phone to his father, officers heard him say, “I was talking to a boy, he was underage.”

Judge David Turner QC said to Jenkins as he sentenced him: “On that day you found yourself in dialogue with someone who you thought was underage when in fact that someone has been described as a paedophile hunter.

“You had contact with that individual with whom you thought was a boy. You told of your location, you exchanged photographs – not highly explicit, but you said you didn’t expect him to arrive,

“As you said in the exchanged message that it could get you into trouble. He made it clear he was 15 although there was no real live underage person.”

Jenkins, of Bannister Close, Dunmow, received a 12-month custodial sentence, suspended for two years, for one count of attempting to meet a male child under the age of 16 following sexual grooming.

He was ordered to join the Horizon programme for up to 35 sessions, to complete 20 rehabilitation activity days, and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order was put in place which cannot be breached for 10 years.

Jenkins was also ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

The forfeiture and destruction of the mobile phone was ordered by the judge and Jenkins was ordered to pay £200 for prosecution costs within six weeks.