Loner sent sexual messages to schoolgirl and asked if she wanted to buy a puppy with him

A loner who sent sexual messages to a schoolgirl and asked if she wanted to buy a puppy with him was snared by paedophile hunters.

Friday, 16th July 2021, 2:20 pm
The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court.

Barry Dobson thought he was chatting to a 15-year-old girl over the internet but had been duped by Guardians of the North, an undercover organisation who were behind the fake profile.

The group set up bogus online child accounts in a bid to expose adults who seek illegal contact with them.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Dobson had messaged the girl over social media site Skout in November 2019 and during "small talk" he told her they lived just 10 minutes away from each other.

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The following month Dobson asked the teen, who said she was 15, if she wanted to go for a drink but was reminded she was too young.

Prosecutor Barry Robson told the court the conversation soon became sexualised and Dobson sent her a graphic photograph, encouraged her to watch pornography and asked for a picture of her in swimwear.

Mr Robson said Dobson asked if she wanted to be his "girlfriend" and added: "He asked her if she wanted to walk his dog and if she wanted to go together and buy a puppy."

The court heard a meeting was arranged for January 11 2020 but when the group found out Dobson was due to be around children the day before, they alerted the police who attended his home.

Mr Robson said: "They feared that the children could be at risk and it was decided by Guardians of the North to report the matter to the police."

Dobson, 43, of Moorsley Road, Houghton, Sunderland, admitted attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity and attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.

Mr Recorder Toby Hedworth QC sentenced him to a two year community order with rehabilitation requirements, 140 hours unpaid work and attendance on a sex offender programme.

Dobson must abide by a sexual harm prevention order for five years and sign the sex offenders register for ten years.

The judge said the offending is serious and added: "There is always a risk someone who has taken the steps that you did will do so again in future and perhaps succeed in having the sort of meeting you were arranging with what you believed to be this 15-year-old girl."

But Recorder Hedworth added that a prison sentence would mean "absolutely nothing is done" to address the issues that lead to such offending.

He added: "The only way those issues can be addressed and will, in my view, be addressed, is with intervention from the probation service."

David Callan, defending, said Dobson leads a "depressing, lonely existence" and his "life seems to have gone wrong" after the breakdown of his marriage in2015.

Mr Callan said Dobson has never been in trouble before and can be safely managed in the community.

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