May 2022

Northampton man imprisoned after being caught sexually grooming two decoy girls by paedophile hunters

A Northampton man has been imprisoned for two years after sexually grooming who he believed to be girls, ages 12 and 13 but were actually decoys set up online by an anti-paedophile group.

Lee Wickers-Fitzpatrick, aged 21, of St Margarets Gardens, appeared at Northampton Crown Court on Wednesday, May 26 charged with two counts of sexually communicating with someone he did not reasonably believe to be 16 or over and one count of intentionally arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence.

The court heard that the first decoy was the Facebook and Whatsapp profile of a 13-year-old girl. On December 17, 2021, Wickers-Fitzpatrick messaged the profile and asked her how old she was before telling her he is 21 and also from Northampton.

Ben Gow, prosecuting, said the defendant wanted to video call the girl to “get to know her better” and “discuss becoming boyfriend and girlfriend”. He suggested going to her house to watch films and “cuddle and kiss”.

The court heard that Wickers-Fitzpatrick attempted to meet with the girl six times, with the decoy cancelling last minute because she said she did not feel well, including on one occasion when she suggested they should meet outside a Northampton school at 7pm because her mother works overnight.

The defendant arranged to meet with the decoy on February 9, 2022 at 7.45pm and sent her a video of him on the bus, the court heard. He was met by an anti-paedophile group, who confronted him.

The second decoy told Wickers-Fitzpatrick that she was 12 years old when he reached out to her first, the court heard. The defendant told her he was from Essex and said she was “pretty” before asking to swap numbers. He then asked the decoy if she wanted to be his girlfriend and sent her an explicit picture of himself.

Mr Gow said that, after being confronted, Wickers-Fitzpatrick was arrested and interviewed. He told police that he had been “hacked” and that he was a victim of “sextortion” because he took a picture of his genitalia to show his doctor and the image was sent by the “hacker”.

Wickers-Fitzpatrick’s previous convictions include possessing weapons, assaulting a police constable, possessing Class A drugs and harassment.

His Honour Judge David Herbert told the defendant he communicated with who he believed to be young girls “plainly for sexual purposes” and he was “caught red-handed”.

Judge Herbert added: “The reality is you have no insight into your offending and, to date, have little to no desire to address it.”

Wickers-Fitzpatrick was imprisoned for a total of two years and a Sexual Harm Prevention Order was made for 10 years.