October 2022

Barnstaple padedophile caught in police sting

A paedophile targeted teenagers in chatrooms and shared sexual fantasies and pictures with another pervert, a court heard.

Mark Stevenson, 37, struck up conversations with what he thought were girls aged 12 and 13 and asked if they wanted to have sex with him.

He did not know the people he was chatting to online were undercover police officers looking to catch paedophiles.

But even after his arrest he continued to offend, asking one decoy if she was a virgin and sending videos of himself masturbating.

Stevenson, of Pilton Causeway, Barnstaple, was described in court as a lonely man who led a solitary life.

He said he was not motivated by a sexual interest in children but admitted multiple offences, including distributing indecent pictures of children and attempting to engage in sexual communication with children.

The judge said: “The offences represent a series of offences that demonstrate you have a clear sexual interest in young children and those in their early teens. It is quite clear you were seeking out various contacts with those in their early teens and were quickly made aware the children concerned, in each case decoys or similar, made their age known to you but you did not desist.”

Stevenson was jailed from 21 months.

Prosecutor Ms Victoria Bastock said Stevenson was arrested after a visit by police to his home address in November 2020. They seized a number of devices and found messages dating back to November 2017.