March 2019

Sex offender jailed again after ‘paedophile hunter’ group carry out sting in Doncaster

A former soldier living in Doncaster has been jailed again after he attempted to engage in sexual communication with a ‘decoy’ child, just days after being released from a sentence for child sex offences. 

Christopher Pickford, 33, was released from a six-year prison sentence for offences of sexual activity with a child and meeting a child after grooming on December 7 last year. 

Sheffield Crown Court was told how Pickford, who served in the army for seven years, began communicating with a person he believed to be a 13-year-old girl on the Kik messaging app on January 10 this year. 

Prosecutor, Gurdial Singh, told the court that the person Pickford was communicating with was a decoy account being used by members of the ‘paedophile hunter’ group, Confronted and Caught. 

Mr Singh said the group’s strategy is to wait for adults to contact the decoy accounts they have set up. 

“The age was given straight away to give him fair warning,” said Mr Singh, adding: “It’s clear from the exchanges that he believed her to be who she claimed to be, but nevertheless proceeded to ask her if she knew what role-play was and if she had ever touched herself.”

The court was told how Pickford, of St James Street, Balby, continued to message the decoy account, and gave instructions on how to masturbate.  Pickford also told the decoy account he was younger than he is. 

His offending was exposed on a live video stream posted to Facebook on the evening of February 2, when members of the Confronted and Caught group challenged Pickford about his behaviour at a public location in Doncaster. 

Pickford’s license period does not expire until December 2021, and he was recalled to prison to serve the remainder of his sentence, following the live confrontation. 

He was initially sentenced to six years in prison, during a hearing held at Salisbury Crown Court in December 2015 for offences of sexual activity with a child and meeting a child after grooming.

Pickford was also made the subject of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order during the same hearing. 

Pickford was charged with an offence of engaging in sexual communication with a child concerning his activity with the decoy account, which he pleaded guilty to at an earlier hearing. 

During a hearing held this morning, Judge Graham Reeds QC sentenced Pickford to 12 months in prison, to run concurrently with the remainder of his first prison sentence. 

He said: “I sentence you on the basis of the contact you had with a person you believed to be 13-years-old, even though the person you were communicating with on the other side was an adult.” 

Judge Reeds also ruled that Pickford’s sexual harm prevention order should continue to run indefinitely.