March 2019

Child sex offender — caught by paedophile hunter — spared jail

A sex offender who messaged and planned to meet a ’14-year-old girl’ — who was actually a ‘paedophile hunter’ — has been spared jail.

Robert Catlin, 38, admitted attempting to meet an underage girl following grooming and attempting to engage in sexual communications with a child at the Isle of Wight Crown Court.

He also admitted to possessing extreme pornographic images — including bestiality — which the police later found on his phone.

Catlin, of Crossway, Bembridge, had messaged who he believed was 14-year-old ‘Faye’ for 19 days in June 2017, the court heard.

Simon Foster, prosecuting, said Catlin’s messages included requests for pictures, pictures of himself and explicitly sexual phrases.

He asked her if she wanted him to be her boyfriend but told her to keep it a secret, the court heard.

Mr Foster said ‘Faye’ had made it clear she was 14 and still at school throughout the exchange.

The self-styled ‘paedophile hunter’ informed police of Catlin’s actions after he did not show for an arranged meet in Portsmouth.

For Catlin, Ms Elizabeth Bussey-Jones said the conversation between Catlin and ‘Faye’ was extremely childish, full of ‘love you’ and heart emojis.

The court heard a psychiatric report showed Catlin was operating on a level of a nine to 12 year old.

Ms Bussey-Jones told the court the defendant had been to a specialist school in his younger years and still lived with his parents.

She added: “He is not somebody who has really had any relationships in the past. He had a girlfriend once before, but in his 37 years that is the total of his sexual experiences.”

Ms Bussey-Jones said Catlin’s low level of function took away some criminality from the incident.

Sentencing, Judge Hill said: “You knew what you were doing and you know it was wrong.

“You went as far as you could before you went to meet her. You had the sense not to go.”

Catlin was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for one year, and will be on the sex offenders register indefinitely.