A 60-year-old would-be paedophile has been jailed after being tricked into meeting a non-existent schoolgirl for sex in a car park.
Douglas Thorpe, of St John’s Bank in South Chailey, in Lewes near Brighton, was sentenced to three years and four months in prison at a hearing yesterday at Bolton Crown Court.
The court heard how Thorpe drove 250 miles to meet Kim, a “14-year-old girl” at Tesco in Hindley, before being apprehended by a man called Darren Minto who runs a paedophile hunting site called “creep catchers.” Judge Timothy Stead heard how Thorpe had sent explicit messages, including a picture of his penis, to Kim before grooming “her” and meeting up for sex.
Once he had been caught, police searched the would-be paedophile, finding condoms and lubricant in his pockets. Thorpe initially denied the charges but later admitted his intentions. Prosecution barrister, Justin Hayhoe, told Judge Stead how the two had begun talking on a social media site called “Scout”.
“During that time it was established how old she was,” he said. “The girl (Minto) confirmed he was a girl aged 14 from Wigan. His response to that was “I could get into trouble for chatting to you lol, I’m older than you.”
“He then continued to start about grooming what he believed to be a 14-year-old girl. He told her he loved her.”
Mr Hayhoe read out messages from Thorpe calling his potential victim a “sexy girl” and saying it was a “pity” he couldn’t see her in school uniform.
The messages became more explicit over a series of weeks.
The pair arranged to meet up, Thorpe also told “Kim” that he had bought her an iPhone 5 for her 14th birthday, which was later found in his car following his arrest. Defending Thorpe, Ms Janet Ironfield said: “I hope i don’t speculate, at the time of his offending he was approaching a crisis in his personal life or mental health. He recognises a need for professional help of varying kinds.”