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‘Lonely’ man caught by vigilante paedophile hunter at Norwich train station escapes jail

PUBLISHED: 14:59 06 October 2017 | UPDATED: 21:11 09 October 2017

Norwich Crown Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich Crown Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

A man who thought he was meeting a 15 year-old girl for sex was caught out instead by vigilante “paedophile hunters” at Norwich Railway Station, a court heard.

Norwich Train Station Norwich Train Station

John Stannard, 52, had booked a hotel room, in Norwich, and believed he was meeting a girl called Maria off a train but instead was snared and filmed by the vigilantes out to catch offenders like him, who then posted the footage on Youtube, which was widely shared online, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Michael Crimp, prosecuting, said Stannard met the girl through a dating website and despite being told she was 15 he told her “age was just a number” and started talking to her in a “sexual manner.”

Mr Crimp said he asked the girl to send him a photo of her breasts and also sent an indecent photo of himself.

Mr Crimp said in January, this year, he booked a hotel room and arranged to meet her at Norwich station but when he turned up was instead confronted by vigilantes who held him until police arrived and arrested him.

The footage was then uploaded onto YouTube.

Stannard, of Swan Close, Aylsham, admitted attempting to meet a female under 16 following sexual grooming and was jailed 18 months suspended for two years, ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work and also placed on the sex offender’s register for 10 years.

He was also ordered to pay £1200 towards prosecution costs.

Judge Maureen Bacon said Stannard thought he was meeting a 15 year-old girl but instead was confronted by the vigilantes and said he had no one to blame but himself for his downfall: “You were the person that arranged to meet that girl with a view to having full sexual intercourse with her.”

Jude Durr, for Stannard, said as a result of him being exposed on YouTube he had lost his marriage, his home, his job and faced public humiliation.

He said: “At the time of committing this offence he was working, he was married, he was living in his own accommodation.”

He said Stannard was now unemployed and had sold his house and was in a very low mood.

“He is a lonely broken man.”

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