Paedophile fined £1 for breaching court order

The Forum in Norwich city centre. Picture: Archant

The Forum in Norwich city centre. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A man who was given a suspended prison sentence for trying to incite a 13-year-old girl into sexual activity has been fined £1 after he admitted breaching the order when he was sent home from an appointment for arguing with probation officers.

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.

But Norwich Crown Court heard Barnes was in fact talking to a woman belonging to a group of paedophile hunters.

In May last year Barnes was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for 24 months after he admitted a charge of attempting to incite a girl aged 13, into sexual activity.

But on Tuesday Barnes, of William Kett Close, Norwich was back in court when he admitted breaching the order.

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Michael Clare, for Barnes, said he had been keeping his appointments and finished his 150 hours unpaid work last year.

But he said a problem arose on October 31 last year when he arrived for an appointment but two probation officers were late.

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Mr Clare said "an argument developed between the parties".

He said "neither side covered themselves in glory" but admitted his client accepted it was not appropriate for him to swear at the probation officers just because they were late.

Mr Clare said his client had been compliant for all appointments since then and there had been "no complaints with his attendance".

Judge Stephen Holt said he had heard what happened on October 31 was "a bit of a loss of temper on both sides".

He said he was prepared to mark the breach by a £1 fine.

At the sentencing hearing in May last year, the court had heard that 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.

The messages were sent in October 2017, but then they stopped, and it was not until February 2018 he was arrested at his home address for the matter.

Judge Holt said Barnes had sent sexual messages of a "quite serious nature" to the person he had thought was a 13-year-old girl.

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

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