Vigilantes pretend to be a girl to catch Leamington ‘groomer’

A Leamington man turned up with a bottle of vodka when he expected to meet a 14-year-old girl on a supermarket car park – only to be confronted by a group who had set up the meeting.

And following the sting, Terence Matthews was traced by the police through his registration number.

Matthews, aged 56, of Bury Road, Leamington, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to attempting to meet a girl under the age of 16 for sexual activity following grooming.

And at Coventry Crown Court, following an adjournment for a pre-sentence report to be prepared on him, he was sentenced to 13 months in prison suspended for two years.

Judge Richard Griffith-Jones also made him subject to supervision for two years and ordered him to take part in a sex offender treatment programme and to register as a sex offender for five years.

Prosecutor Simon Phillips said that Matthews first made contact with a girl through an internet chat site at the beginning of March last year.

The girl’s profile, on which her real name was used, said she was 14, and included a picture which was obviously of a school-age girl.

In fact, although the picture was of a real 14-year-old, it was a fake profile which had been placed on the site by a man called John Stokes, a member of a group calling itself Letz Go Hunting.

When they discussed meeting, Matthews suggested he could perform sex acts with her.

They arranged to meet on the car park of the Asda supermarket, and he arrived with a bottle of vodka which the girl had said she wanted.

“He turns up, but rather than her, he is confronted by a group including John Stokes,” said Mr Phillips.

The confrontation was recorded on camera and posted on You Tube, and Matthews was subsequently traced through his car number plate.

When he was arrested Matthews, who had no previous convictions, denied he was going to do anything unlawful.

And during his police interview about the offence he claimed he thought she was 19, and that her comments about being 14 was ‘just banter,’

Sentencing Matthews after reading the pre-sentence report, Judge Griffith-Jones also made him subject to a sexual offences prevention order for ten years.