May 2020

Pervert caught by paedophile hunters

A paedophile who was confronted on his doorstep by members of a paedophile hunting group has avoided a prison sentence

Matthew Appleton was arrested after he sent sexually explicit images of himself to what he believed was a 12-year-old girl and made arrangements to meet her in Leeds.

Leeds Crown Court heard the 12-year-old girl was in fact an adult member of paedophile hunting group T.G.A who was posing online as a child.

Robert Stevenson, prosecuting, said Appleton made contact with the ‘victim’ via a media app on October 23, 2018.

He struck up a conversation what he believed was a girl called Jade and told her she had pretty eyes.

Five days later he made contact with Jade again despite being told during an exchange of messages that she was only 12.

Appleton, 25, asked for naked pictures of the youngster.

The prosecutor said: “The defendant said ‘I am 16 so it’s ok’.

“The conversation continued with the defendant asking for naked pictures, saying it was perfectly normal”

Appleton then went on to send the girl sexual images and videos of himself.

The defendant contacted the girl on November 2, 2018, and asked her to meet him in Leeds.

The next day he was confronted at his family home by nine members of the group called the Guardian Angels 

Appleton admitted he had sent the images after being shown screenshots by members of the group.

Police were contacted and Appleton was arrested.

Appleton, now of Hildyard Close, Gloucester, pleaded guilty to attempting to cause a girl under 13 to engage in sexual activity and attempting to incite a girl under 13 to look at a sexual activity.

The court was told the defendant is prepared to engage in a sex offender programme to prevent him from re-offending in the future.

Appleton was given a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He was also made the subject of community order, during which he must complete a 25-day rehabilitation activity requirement.

Appleton must also do 120 hours of unpaid and go on the sex offender register for ten years.

Judge Andrew Stubbs QC said: “The best way of for everybody to deal with that risk is for you to engage with the professionals who can deal with you.”