August 2022

Durham man caught out by paedophile hunters after explicit messages

A man who thought he was chatting online to a 15-year-old girl said he would like to do, “naughty things” to her, a court heard.

Michael Hodgson’s initial apparently harmless chat with the girl he believed to be called ‘Chelsea’ took on a more sexualised slant in the early hours of July 16, 2020.

He sent her a number of explicit messages encouraging her to take part in sexual activity with him, telling her what he would like to do with her.

Durham Crown Court heard that there was no girl, however, as Hodgson had been communicating with a member of the paedophile-hunting group Guardians of the North, who had set up a fake profile purporting to be Chelsea.

The case was sent to the crown court where the now 23-year-old defendant, of Morrison Close, Woodham, Newton Aycliffe, did plead guilty.

The judge said there were, “elements of grooming”, before the conversation became more “sexually explicit”, and he added that it appeared the defendant’s intention was, in due course, to meet what he thought was a real girl to commit serious sexual offending.

Imposing a two-year prison sentence, the judge said it was “too serious” to suspend it, and he also made Hodgson subject of the terms of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, for seven years, and registration as a sex offender, for ten years.