Beds, Herts & Bucks

Man convicted after being caught by paedophile hunters

Mark Porter arriving at Luton Crown Court Image copyright sbna
Image caption Porter had tried to persuade the girl to come to his flat

A man who was snared by self-styled paedophile hunters has been convicted of child sex offences.

Mark Porter, 55, thought he had been in contact with a 14-year-old girl called Jenny, Luton Crown Court heard.

But when he arrived at the town's railway station in March he was confronted by Katie and Neil Ivall, who target paedophiles.

Porter, of Amersham Hill, High Wycombe, was found guilty of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.

The court heard the couple had found his profile on Facebook and, posing as Jenny, began exchanging messages with him in January.

Prosecutor Will Noble, said: "The defendant repeatedly sends flattering messages complimenting Jenny, offering to take her to Thorpe Park and promising her gifts and treats.

"He asks for pictures of Jenny as the conversations become more sexual".

Image copyright sbna
Image caption Neil and Katie Ivall set up fake profiles online posing as teenage girls, then meet and confront the men who groom them

Mr Noble said the defendant had tried to persuade Jenny to come to his flat in Buckinghamshire during a series of secretly-recorded phone conversations.

Porter finally agreed to a meeting at 20:00 on Friday 25 March outside Luton rail station, where Mr and Mrs Ivall were waiting.

They said he tried to drive away but, with the help of others, they were able to detain him while the police were called.

In the witness box Porter told the jury that he knew it was a hoax all along.

Under cross-examination he claimed he had driven to Luton to confront the people behind the hoax.

Police forces generally discourage "vigilante" groups and have said on previous occasions this form of evidence gathering can cause complications over whether the proof has been collected through entrapment.

Porter was bailed and is due to be sentenced on 27 January.

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