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Paedophile hunters duped man at Norwich bus station

PUBLISHED: 17:12 15 January 2020 | UPDATED: 17:12 15 January 2020

Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

A paedophile hunter group snared a 38-year-old man at Norwich bus station after duping him into thinking he was meeting up with a 12-year-old girl, a court heard.

Daniel Freeman thought he was talking to a 12-year-old girl online, but in fact it was a woman from a paedophile hunter group called Net Justice, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Chris Youell, prosecuting, said Freeman engaged in sexual chat with the girl and offered to send her a naked photo of himself, but one was never sent.

Freeman, who gave his real name as Daniel, agreed to meet up with the girl at the Surrey Street bus depot on February 3, 2018, but instead was confronted by members of the paedophile hunter group, who live-streamed what was happening and posted it on Facebook.

Police were called and in interview Freeman admitted he was going to meet up with the girl but said he was just going to go shopping with her and have lunch and maybe take her to see Norwich Castle.

Freeman, of no fixed address, admitted attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.

Andrew Oliver, for Freeman, said the offence now happened two years ago and at the time Freeman had been drinking and was at a low point because of a relationship break-up.

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"He became socially isolated and spent his time online. He is a vulnerable man and been assessed as immature for his age."

He said it was Freeman's first conviction and he had been suffering with anxiety and stress as a result of what happened.

He said that since the offence he had sought help from Alcoholics Anonymous and other agencies and was trying to rebuild his life.

Mr Oliver said: "He is taking small steps every day and re-building his confidence and being more pro-social."

Judge Stephen Holt imposed a 24 month community order and placed him on sex offender register for five years.

He also made him subject to a sexual harm prevention order for five years.

Judge Holt accepted Freeman had not tried to groom anyone and made full admissions to police.

He said the best point in his favour was that Freeman had sought help his difficulties.

"It was two years since this happened and there has been no repetition."

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