Two Nottingham men snared by online ‘paedophile hunter’ action groups have admitted a catalogue of internet child grooming offences.
Ricky Slade, from the Meadows, was videoed by members of ‘The Hunted One’ as he was arrested for planning to meet a ‘decoy’ fake profile of a 10-year-old girl for sex.
In a separate case, Jimmy Jones, of Stapleford, admitted similar charges after evidence he pursued fake profiles of two underage girls was passed to police by a different group.
The two appeared separately at Nottingham Crown Court on Monday and were both told to expect prison sentences when they return to court in January.
Slade, 29, was cornered outside Nottingham Station on November 19, and filmed by a group of men from The Hunted One as they confronted him and revealed two girls he had approached online were in fact profiles run by them.
Police arrived soon after to arrest him and seize his phone. The video was then posted to YouTube by the group and viewed thousands of times. It is no longer available on the site.
Slade, formerly of Houseman Gardens but now of no fixed address, admitted three charges of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, and one attempt to meet a child for sexual activity.
The first two charges related to fake profiles of girls under 13, the third of a girl aged 13-15 and the fourth in relation of a fake profile of a 10-year-old.
Judge Gregory Dickinson QC told Slade to expect a prison sentence when he returns to court on January 20.
Slade, wearing a dark raincoat and jeans, spoke only to confirm his name and admit all four charges. All four offences happened between May and November.
He was released on bail while pre-sentence reports are prepared but given conditions which include reporting to a police station every day and not to having unsupervised contact with children under 17.
In the other case, Jones, 24, of Rycroft Street, Stapleford, admitted two charges of attempting to incite a child aged under 13 to engage in sexual activity, one of attempting to incite a child aged 13-15 to engage in sexual activity and one of attempting to meet a child aged 10 following grooming.
All the incidents involved fake profiles operated by a different online group and happened in November.
Jones was also bailed with conditions so a pre-sentence report can be prepared. Neither of the two men have any previous convictions.
Judge Dickinson told Jones: “When you come back to court you must expect to receive a prison sentence. Thankfully there was no actual child involved, but you didn’t know that and what you had in mind was truly terrible.”
The growing number of online volunteer ‘hunter’ groups remain controversial. Critics say some risk ruining evidence or scuppering cases because they lack official training, but supporters say they are providing a valuable service to police forces dealing with shrinking resources.
The Hunted One says it has caught 42 online groomers since launching 13 months ago, and claims a 100 per cent conviction rate.
In November Ben Waters-Bleach from the group told Notts TV News: “Online grooming is a big issue in the UK and the problem is that police are understaffed to deal with it.”
Meanwhile, while condemning the men’s behaviour, the NSPCC spoke out against hunting groups.
A spokesman for the charity said: “These men set out to groom young girls with the intention of sexually abusing them. This kind of predatory behaviour can ruin childhoods with the devastating effects lasting into adulthood.
“Although we have every sympathy for concerned parents, we would urge everyone to leave it to the proper authorities to identify and investigate offenders.
“Engaging in this kind of activity could lead to people getting hurt, or jeopardising a delicate and complex on-going investigation which may put more children at risk of harm.”