May 2019

Facebook paedophile is snared by ‘hunters’

Paedophile hunters snared a 22-year-old in a Facebook sting

Todd Gillespie sent members of the Child Online Safety Team,  images of his penis and, thinking they were teenage girls, encouraged them to share sexually-explicit images with him.

Gillespie, who lives with his parents, has been banned by magistrates from using the internet and told to register as a sex offender after he admitted three counts of attempting to incite girls aged 13 and 14 to engage in sexual activity.

Swindon Magistrates’ Court was told the defendant, of Slessor Road, Lyneham had been chatting to the decoy accounts last winter.

Prosecutor Graham Dono said Gillespie had sent a message to a Facebook account in the name of Laura Morgan, which was operated by an Aimee Broomfield.

In the first messages, Gillespie had asked for the “girl’s” age – giving his as 16 when he was told she was 14-years-old. He asked her if she was single, whether she had an account on social media network Snapchat and if “she knew what sex was”.

The messages continued in a sexually explicit tone, with Gillespie asking the teen to whom he believed he was talking to send her a picture of her breasts or private parts. He also told her to “think of him as her love”.

Gillespie was said to have contacted another decoy account, run by a Scott Rivers of the group Totnes Justice.

The decoy gave her age as 13 and he asked if she would like to see a picture of his genitals.

The final contact was made with a member of Child Online Safety Team, Mark Grant, posing as a 14-year-old girl.

Magistrates were told the “girl” asked Gillespie if he thought it was okay for a 14-year-old to see a picture of a naked man.

“He tells her it’s okay as long as she keeps it a secret,” said Mr Dono. No photographs were exchanged between the pair.

On December 4, Hereford-based members of the Child Online Safety Team went to Gillespie’s home. They performed a citizens arrest and called in the police.

After hearing evidence the magistrates ruled the matters were too serious for them to sentence.

The case against Gillespie, who has a youth caution for sexual assault, was adjourned and he was bailed to appear before Swindon Crown Court for sentencing on June 7. He must register as a sex offender, has been banned from accessing the internet and comply with a doorstep curfew.