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Cleaner, 51, tried to meet 13-year-old for sex

PUBLISHED: 15:16 20 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:16 20 March 2020

Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

A man who tried to get a 13-year-old to meet him for sex was snared by a group of online paedophile hunters.

David Bailey, formerly of Main Street, Hockwold cum Wilton, near Thetford, was given a two-year suspended sentence at Norwich Crown Court on March 20 after pleading guilty to two counts of attempting to engage a child in sexual activity.

The paedophile hunters were part of a group called Cobra UK - members of the public who take it upon themselves to pose as young girls on the internet.

The court heard how Bailey, 51, who now lives in Dereham, conversed with what he thought was a 13-year-old called Ruby between December 3-18, 2018, using WhatsApp and a dating app called Oasis.

Chris Youell, prosecuting, said: “In her first message ‘Ruby’ specifically said that she would be 14 in February so he knew she was a young girl. He asked her if she was a virgin and if she wanted to lose her virginity.”

Handing down the sentence, Judge Stephen Holt said: “There were a number of sexual comments made by you, asking her to perform sexual acts.”

A meeting was then arranged. Cobra UK contacted the police, who went to Bailey’s home at the agreed time and arrested him.

Judge Holt said: “You got a knock on the door from the police, not from Ruby.”

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The police then found evidence on his phone.

Claire Matthews, mitigating, described Bailey as a “socially awkward man” who was “ashamed of his behaviour”.

She said: “There remains an element of not wanting to face up to his behaviour and there is an element of denial which definitely needs professional input.

“Unlike many who are caught out by so-called paedophile hunters he doesn’t express any anger. In fact, there is a degree of relief that he is now going to be watched and receive professional input and guidance.”

Bailey originally claimed he believed ‘Ruby’ was 18.

The court heard how Bailey, a cleaner, was laid off last week because of a lack of work due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In addition to the sentence, Bailey will have to do 150 hours unpaid work, undertake 10 days of rehabilitation and 35 days on an accredited programme to “work on his behaviour”. He has also been made subject to a sexual harm prevention order for five years.

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