July 2022

Peterborough paedophile caught by paedo hunters

A Peterborough paedophile who messaged 15 girls under the age of 16 was exposed when four of the ‘children’ turned out to be adults from paedophile hunting teams

Neil Higgins, 45, spoke to who he believed were four young girls on messaging apps between 17 September and 13 October 2020.

When he was caught he showed no remorse for his offending – and now he has been jailed for more than four years.

Peterborough Crown Court heard how Higgins, who was convicted in 2014 for making indecent images of children and was placed on the Sex Offenders Register for five years, came off the register in September 2019 but offended again a year later

His messages to the ‘girls’ included requesting photos of them in their underwear, asking them to meet up and asking them to perform sexual acts on themselves

Further investigations revealed Higgins had messaged approximately 200 other people – with 11 of these indicating they were under the age of 16

Out of the 15 different ‘children’ Higgins messaged, officers established that he caused or incited two of them to engage in sexual activity, asked 12 profiles for pictures, and told 13 of the profiles that they were ‘sexy’

A search was carried out at his home at the time of the offences in Peterborough and numerous items were seized, including a small amount of drugs.

In police interview Higgins, of no fixed address, admitted sending the messages but stated he never intended to do any of the things he talked about in them – such as meeting the ‘girls’ in person or having sex with them.

He claimed people who wanted to do so were ‘sick in the head’ and said he was not like that. Higgins told officers he was in a ‘dark place mentally’ which had driven him to offend again.

He was subsequently charged with possessing cannabis, four counts of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and two counts of attempting to cause or incite a girl aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity.

Higgins admitted the offences at Cambridge Crown Court on 4 May. He was sentenced at Peterborough Crown Court yesterday (19 July), where Judge Sean Enright told him he had shown a ‘determined and sustained effort to meet young girls for sex’ and had also shown no remorse for his crimes

Higgins was handed four years and six months in prison, with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) to run indefinitely and monitor any future offending