Man spared jail after attempting to meet girl, 12, at Seaham Asda - but was instead snared by paedophile hunting group
A man has been spared jail after he was caught attempting to meet a girl he believed was just 12 at Seaham Asda – but was instead snared by a paedophile hunting group.
Shaun Congdon believed he was talking to four girls, aged 12 and 13, online and had sent numerous explicit pictures and videos of himself encouraging the girls to send pictures of themselves in return.
He had actually contacted four decoy accounts set up by a vigilante paedophile hunting group.
Durham Crown Court heard Congdon had arranged to meet one of the girls, who he believed to be just 12 years old, at the Asda in Seaham on July 5, last year.
He was met by members of the paedophile hunting group who called the police and the 22-year-old was arrested, said Richard Bennett, prosecuting.
The 22-year-old, of South Yorkshire, admitted three counts of attempting to incite a child, under 13, to engage in sexual activity.
He also admitted attempting to have sexual communication with a child.
Sentencing Congdon, Judge Jonathon Carroll said: “In June and July 2018, you became prolifically active in seeking to track down and speak to young prepubescent girls in that 12 to 13 age bracket.
“[The vigilante group] were committed to making it clear from the outset that you were dealing with a young child.
“There were references to the age of the decoy, reference to school and homework – there could be no room for error or confusion.
“You told one girl you don’t care about age and the conversation was overtly sexual.”
He added: “If I lock you up for nine months you will not have the opportunity whilst you’re in custody to complete the necessary programmes.
“The most important thing to do what I can to make children and society safer and impose this course. I don’t want to, I do it because its the only way to make children safer.
“Anything less than complete compliance then you will be brought back in front of me and I will send you to custody.”
Congdon was given a nine-month suspended sentence. He must also carry out a 35 day horizons programme, 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days and is subject to an electronic curfew from 7pm to 7am every day.
Congdon, of Cheviot Drive, Doncaster, is also subject to a sexual harm prevention order.