Man admits attempting to groom teenage girl

Andrew O'Neill
Andrew O'Neill

A MAN has admitted attempting to meet and groom a 14-year-old girl following a vigilante-style attack in Wigan.

Andrew O’Neill formerly of Castlehey, Skelmersdale, now of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to the charge of attempting to meet a girl under the age of 16 following grooming at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court.

He was arrested on Saturday after going to the police station with an allegation he had been attacked by a vigilante gang.

The court heard how O’Neill contacted and communicated with somebody said to be called ‘Alex’ via a dating website between April 11 and April 18.

O’Neill was confronted by a group when he turned up to Wigan town centre expected to meet a young girl.

He was attacked by the group, who filmed the incident on mobile phone.

The video was then posted on Facebook with the tag “NWI Nonce Busters” - believed to be a reference to right-wing group the North West Infidels. The video has since been taken down.

Prosecuting Nicola Ormerod said at first it was just general conversation but then the pair began flirting and discussing more sexual matters.

O’Neill then arranged to meet up with the young girl and stated that he had booked a hotel room.

Ms Ormerod told the court out that the girl had said she was 14 at the beginning of the conversation.

She added that he thought he was speaking to this young girl but in reality he wasn’t it was a group of adults posing as a teenage girl.

Andrea Woods, defending, said O’Neill deserved credit for his early guilty plea and cooperation with police.

Magistrates remanded the 25-year-old in custody for his own personal protection and due to the nature of the crime before his next appearance at Liverpool Crown Court on May 11.