Paedophile hunters catch man who sent girl, 13, sexual Facebook messages

Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Norwich Crown Court. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood - Credit: Archant

A Norwich man was snared by paedophile hunters when he used Facebook to try to meet up with a 13-year-old girl, a court heard.

Mark Barnes, 40, was caught after he sent a friend request to a girl he thought was 13 and after sending her sexual messages on Facebook, he asked if she would meet up with him, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Ian James, prosecuting, said Barnes was in fact talking to a woman belonging to a group of paedophile hunters.

He said as well as sexual messages, Barnes also sent a naked photo of himself and a photo showing part of his face, which was obscured by his mobile phone.

Mr James said: 'He also sent to her some comment which implied he was intending to meet up with her.'

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Mr James said the messages were sent in October 2017, but then they stopped, and it was not until February, last year, he was arrested at his home address for the matter.

Barnes, of William Kett Close, Norwich, admitted attempting to incite a girl aged 13, into sexual activity.

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Sentencing him, Judge Stephen Holt said that Barnes had thought he was talking to a 13-year-old but in fact it was a woman who was part of a paedophile hunter group: 'You sent a friend request to her Facebook and then you decided to send sexual messages to her of a quite serious nature.'

However he accepted that by the time of his arrest, any contact had ceased, and he had not offended further

He said the best outcome for the public was for Barnes to get help to stop any further offending so he imposed a 12 month sentence, suspended for two years.

He also ordered him to do 150 hours unpaid work and take part in a sex offender's treatment programme.

Judge Holt also placed him on the sex offender's register for 10 years and made him subject to a sexual harm prevention order, which limits his use of the Internet.

Jonathan Goodman, for Barnes, said he had nothing of this nature in his past.

He said Barnes contacted, who he thought was a 13-year-old, for a short time around October 2017 and had then stopped.

'There were no further incidents. This was a short limited period of wholly unacceptable behaviour,'

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