March 2019

Accrington pervert snared by ‘paedophile hunter’ group in online sting

A pervert who was caught by a self-styled ‘paedophile hunter’ group in an online sting has been jailed.

Mark Anthony Nicholson, formerly of George Street, Accrington, engaged in graphic sex chat with a volunteer over social media believing she was a 12-year-old schoolgirl girl called ‘Gabby’.

During some of the video conversations Nicholson said he was wearing ‘girls knickers’ and a bra and told of his fantasies.

The 51-year-old told Gabby she was a ‘pretty little stunner’ and offered to pay £20 for her knickers.

Prosecutor Karen Brooks told Burnley Crown Court how the paedophile hunter volunteered for the group ‘No More Silent Voices’ and was messaged by Nicholson on August 29 last year.

The court heard the defendant told her ‘what turned him on’ and then ‘graphically explained’ what he would like to do to her.

Ms Brooks said another paedophile hunter group were contacted to carry out a ‘sting operation’ on September 6 and the defendant was arrested.

Nicholson, now of River Way, Barrowford, pleaded guilty to attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and attempting to cause a child to watch sexual activity.

He was jailed for 18 months, ordered to sign the sex offenders register and made subject to a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years.

The court heard how the sickness benefit claimant was previously convicted for indecent exposure in the 1990s and jailed in 2012 for breaching a non-molestation order.

Judge Andrew Jefferies QC said Nicholson’s actions were ‘repulsive, wholly inappropriate, illegal and shameful’.

He said: “You didn’t know that person was working a sting. The whole purpose of these operations are to weed out dangerous people who maybe a risk to children.

“I can’t help but note the phrase within the pre-sentence report ‘prolific drug user’ and wonder whether the cause of some of your problems is that rather then mental health in itself.

“I fail to understand the correlation between your mental health and the commission of this offence.

“You committed this offence because you have an unhealthy interest in young girls.”