September 2023

Paedophile offered to take 12-year-old girl to zoo and make love to her

A judge briefly considered awarding compensation to a paedophile hunting group to fund their future operations before she sentenced a paedophile who planned to sexually abuse young girls because he was ‘bored, lonely, and stupid’ 

John O’Keeffe, 57, of Caledonian Road, Islington, was confronted by paedophile hunters at his front door on February 20 after grooming two decoys over Facebook and Whatsapp between February 12 and the day of his arrest.

O’Keeffe pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual communication with a child at Snaresbrook Crown Court on March 22, and then another two counts of arranging to meet a child to commit a sexual offence at the same court in July.

After seven months on remand he returned to the court on Tuesday (September 19) for sentence, clutching the dock throughout.

Prosecutor Lucy McGarr explained how O’Keeffe messaged the first decoy on Facebook, telling her she was ‘beautiful’ and that they should meet despite her revealing she was just 14-years-old. “He said he had a nice double bed and he would take her to the zoo for the day,” Ms McGarr told the court.

After offering to ‘make love’ to her, the decoy said she was a virgin, but O’Keeffe replied: “One day you will lose it and become a woman. It’s up to you.” When he suggested she visit him in London for sex she said ‘You have to be 16’, to which O’Keeffe replied ‘That’s the law but we do not have to tell anyone’.

O’Keeffe – who later sent a nude photo of himself and asked for one back – then suggested they cuddle instead, and she could suck his penis, the court heard. In other messages he continued to groom her, offering a night in a hotel where ‘if she wasn’t ready’ they could do oral sex instead.

O’Keeffe then began messaging another decoy, who clearly appeared to be a 12-year-old girl on her Facebook profile. He employed the same grooming tactics, offering a trip to the zoo and to meet in London. “He initially tells her they won’t have sex because she is too young,” Ms McGarr said. “But then said they will use condoms so she is safe.”

The decoy then said her mum had not explained sex to her, to which O’Keeffe replied with an explanation of the mechanics and a photo of a woman’s vagina, the court was told. O’Keeffe was later snared by paedo hunters who called police to his address in North London where he was arrested.

Judge Louise Kamill briefly considered awarding compensation to the paedophile hunting group to fund their future operations, drawing approving nods from O’Keeffe, but was warned off by Mr Forsyth who questioned the legality of some groups who, he suggested, “stay more the right side of the line than others”.

Judge Kamill seemed persuaded by the mitigation, including O’Keeffe’s apparent care obligations to his 88-year-old mother, and said: “This is a serious case, but it seems to be an aberration in this particular man’s case.

She sentenced him to two years suspended for two years, ordered 180 hours of unpaid work, a 6am to 8pm curfew, and an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order. O’Keeffe also will be entered onto the Sex Offenders register for seven years