December 2018

Epping paedophile avoids jail after being caught in online Grindr sting

A 78-year-old snared in a paedophile hunter’s sting on the gay dating site Grindr has avoided jail.

A judge told father-of-two Maurice Peacock, of Parsloe Road, Epping, Essex, at Essex Crown court that he had escaped being sent to prison by “the thinnest of margins”.

Peacock was convicted of attempting to meet a boy under 16 following grooming; and two charges of attempting to cause a child to watch an image of sexual activity.

An on-line contact between Peacock and the team, who was posing as a fictitious 15-year-old called Ben under the profile Young Male, resulted in a “graphic” on-line chat log.

Peacock also sent images, including videos of male sexual acts to ‘Ben’.

The vigilante had previously told the court he had investigated 25-30 cases in Essex, Herts and Suffolk and said he “felt strongly about online paedophilia,”

Chelmsford Crown Court heard that Peacock – whose profile was DaddyFor-Teen – tried to meet ‘Ben’ to engage in sexual activity after talking to him on Grindr and then Whatsapp between May 15 and 17, 2017.

The paedophile hunter alerted police and when Peacock arrived in his grey Mercedes at The Oaks Retail Park in Harlow on May 17 to meet Ben he was arrested.

In his defence Peacock claimed he was suspicious from the start of the conversation that Ben was older than 15 and continued it because he was “fed up” with being pestered by boys under age and wanted to “out” the paedo hunter.

Peacock, who has been married for 45 years, said he was bisexual and began acting on his tendencies about a decade ago. He used DaddyFor-Teen profile because he preferred men aged between 18 and 30.

He said when he sent the images he believed Ben was in his 20s.

“Moreover he acknowledges for the very first time that he has a serious problem and that problem is a predilection to teenage males.

Sentencing Peacock today, Judge Emma Peters said: “Your problem is not that you are a homosexual, your problem is that you are attracted to children.”

She imposed a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered him to complete a sex offenders’ programme and 50 days of rehabilitation activity. He also was ordered to pay the full £2,800 costs of his trial.

In addition, Peacock must sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for ten years and was given a sexual harm offences order allowing police to monitor his internet access.

Judge Peters told the defendant: “Homosexual relationships are just as loving, decent and honourable as heterosexual ones.

“This is not about you being a repressed homosexual. This case and this sentence is about your now admitted predilection, of a man in his late 70s, of engaging in sexual acts with children.”

She said she could suspend the sentence because the case did not involve a real child, but a fictitious one created by “a paedophile hunter” – although Peacock thought it was an actual 15-year-old.

The judge said she was balancing her duties to punish, to deter, to reform and to rehabilitate.

A neuro-psychiatrist’s report, after an MRI brain scan, confirmed Peacock was in the early stages of dementia.

“In his view this may have disinhibited you and resulted in you being more inclined to commit these offences,” said the judge.

She praised Peacock’s wife’s dignity and stoicism as she sat through the trial and was present for the sentencing. Mrs Peacock cried as she learned her husband was not being jailed immediately.