Paedophile hunters catch Weston man seeking sex with teenage girl
- Credit: Archant
A Weston-super-Mare man has been jailed after being caught trying to incite sexual activity with a child by an online paedophile hunting group.
Robert Silverthorne was handed two years in prison at Cardiff Crown Court on June 21 after he groomed what he thought to be a 15-year-old girl on social media – which turned out to be a decoy run by PH Balance.
The group aims to catch predators on social media and in chat rooms before conducting stings and then handing evidence to the police.
Silverthorne, of Carousel Lane, arranged to meet the decoy in Cardiff last August, but when he arrived he was confronted by the hunters, who blocked his car before alerting South Wales Police.
The 54-year-old pleaded not guilty throughout the trial, which took place from May 24-25, but it took the jury just minutes to convict him of four charges – which included attempted sexual communication with a child, attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity and attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.
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The four convictions totalled a 44 months, but they will be served concurrently meaning he will serve just the two years behind bars.
The court also imposed a sexual harm prevention order, and Silverthorne will be required to sign the sex offenders register.
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A PH Balance spokesman told the Mercury the group was pleased with the verdict.
They said: “Silverthorne initially made contact with our 15-year-old child decoy and clearly wasn’t concerned by her age, which he was told on three occasions throughout the chat.
“He made references within the chat regarding the child’s mother showing his understanding of her age.
“He initiated sexual content within the chat and requested the meeting in Cardiff.
“He claimed in court he was expecting an older woman to be there not a child and that he was going to take her for a coffee and a chat.
“When he arrived for the meeting we approached his car which attempted to escape from us but he was blocked in by members of the team.
“He pleaded not guilty throughout but the jury took only 20 minutes to find him guilty of all charges.”