Perverted driving instructor snared by paedophile hunters while his wife was working nightshift

The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court.
The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court.

A driving instructor who sneaked out to meet up with a 14-year-old girl while his wife was working nightshift has been snared by paedophile hunters.

Benjamin Brightey thought he had been having "highly sexualised" online conversations with a schoolgirl, who he asked for pictures in uniform, but had been duped by Guardians of the North.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the undercover group set up fake profiles on chat sites to expose adults looking for contact with children.

On July 11, married dad Brightey, 32, had started talking to a female's profile and was told she was only 14.

Prosecutor David Crook told the court: "The defendant offered to buy her clothes if she agreed to meet him, asked for photographs of her in school uniform, asked questions about her underwear etc.

"There was highly sexualised discussion about intimate parts of her body and what he would like to do with her."

The court heard a meeting was arranged within a few days for a specified place in the early hours of the morning in Sunderland, which ended in a collision between Brightey's car and vehicles belonging to the group as he made a bid to get away.

Brightey's vehicle and a car belonging to Guardians of the North were damaged during the confrontation.

Mr Crook added: "His wife was on nightshift.

"His wife returned from her nightshift.

"He moved his car away and his initial explanation to his wife was the car had been stolen."

The court heard Brightey was arrested and it was revealed he been having a second, sexualised, conversation with another fake Guardians of the North profile of a different 14-year-old girl.

Brightey, of Hopps Street, Hartlepool, admitted attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity and attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.

Judge Robert Spragg sentenced him to 22 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, with rehabilitation requirements and sex offender treatment.

Brightey must sign the sex offenders register and abide by the terms of a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years.

The judge told him: "You drove off, causing damage to one of their vehicles and pretended your car had been stolen so our wife did not know you had been out.

"The probation service believe, by their recommendation, the risk you pose at present can be managed in the community.

"The public are likely to be better protected in the long term by the order I intend to impose."

Jamie Adams, defending, said Brightey, who is no longer working, had a number of references from people he had previously taught to drive and has never been in trouble before.

Mr Adams said the effect of Brightey's behaviour has been "devastating" and almost cost him his marriage, for which he is genuinely remorseful and is taking positive steps to change his future.