May 2023

Caught out by online paedophile hunters… again


An already convicted pervert from Deganwy has been jailed after he used social networking platforms to groom a person he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

Eric Hughes, 40, of Tan-y-Fron, was sentenced to 27 months’ imprisonment at Caernarfon Crown Court after he was exposed by a paedophile hunting team for a second time.

He was also made subject to sex offenders register notification requirements, and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO), both for 10 years.

Prosecuting, Elen Owen told the court that, on April 6 and 7, 2022, Hughes sent sexualised messages on both Facebook and WhatsApp to a member of a group called “Child Online Safety Team”.

The group member was posing as a 14-year-old girl, to whom Hughes sent a Facebook friend request, which was then accepted.

After initial conversations, the group member told Hughes she was a 14-year-old girl from Newcastle; Hughes, 39 at the time, said he was aged 30 in response.

He then sent a picture of himself to her, adding: “I bet you look amazing in uniform”, with her telling him she was a school pupil.

The girl reiterated she was 14, with the group member sending Hughes a picture of a young girl; after which, Hughes continued making explicit sexual comments to her.

When the girl asked him if she would “get into trouble”, Hughes replied: “not if you don’t tell”.

A further exchange of messages later involved Hughes suggested “phone sex”, the meaning of which he explained explicitly to the girl after she told him she did not know what that was.

She declined, and Hughes sent her an apology the next morning, before further sexual messages followed from him.

The group’s administrators, and later the police, were then contacted, and Hughes was arrested on April 8, 2022.

In two police interviews, in both April and June 2022, he denied any responsibility or wrongdoing.

Hughes had also breached a five-year SHPO issued to him in March 2019 through his actions – one of the prohibitions of this order stopped him from joining, using or subscribing to any social media site.

He had also received a conditional caution in 2020 relating to an earlier breach of the SHPO.

Sentencing, Recorder Wyn Lloyd-Jones said Hughes was “incredibly lucky” not to have been jailed for the offences which landed him a SHPO in March 2019.

He also accused of Hughes of telling “blatant lies” to police in not taking responsibility for his actions.

Recorder Lloyd-Jones told Hughes: “What you did, and what came to light, exposed your intentions and your thoughts.

“You did this, there is no doubt whatsoever, for your own selfish sexual gratification.

“I can’t close my eyes to the fact that you were given a conditional caution in 2020 for a breach of the SHPO.

“You have re-offended despite treatment. You were given a chance; you threw it away. You behaviour hasn’t changed despite the work done with you.

“Other people are suffering because of your selfishness.

“If you breach that SHPO, you know exactly what will happen. The sentence will not be as short next time.”

Hughes will also pay a statutory surcharge, within three months of his release from prison.

March 2019

Pervert caught by paedophile hunting team

A pervert who believed he was talking sexually to a young child has avoided a prison sentence

Eric Hughes, 36 of Deganwy appeared at Caernarfon Crown Court where he was sentenced for multiple online grooming offences.

The court was told that pub chef Hughes had contacted the online profile of who he believed was a child. He sent a string of sexually charged messages.

In June, 2018, whilst on his way to work at his local pub, Hughes was approached by a team of paedophile hunters. The group introduced themselves as ‘Catching Online Predators’  and that they catch sexual predators who target children online.

The police were called and Hughes was arrested.

It turns out he was one of 200 men who had contacted a fake profile on Facebook that had been created under the name Jade

Prosecutor Simon Rogers told Caernarfon Crown Court during Hughes’ sentencing hearing this week said the profile “made clear Jade was 14 years old and when the defendant sent a message this was spelled out to him”.

Mr Rogers added: “But he messaged her at all hours of the day and night. He asked for pictures of her and sent explicit images of himself.”

He said the messages continued from late February into March last year.

Hughes also contacted two other fake profiles and subjected them to the same volume of messages, images and requests.

The judge handed him a two year community order with a 30 day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement

He was told to complete 150 hours unpaid work

Hughes, now of Trecenydd, Caerphilly, was made the subject of a five-year sexual harm prevention order.

His details will remain on the sex offenders register for the same period. The judge also ordered his mobile phone be confiscated.