August 2019

Honiton man caught out in paedophile hunters’ sting avoids prison

An internet predator who lived in Honiton who was snared by three different groups of online paedophile hunters in just two months has walked free from court

Mark Wood offered to give sex lessons to what he thought was a nine-year-old girl without realising he was in fact communicating with an adult who had posted a decoy profile on a chat site.

He sent similar obscene messages to four more decoy profiles, all created by paedophile hunting groups and claiming to be girls aged 13 or 14.

He was arrested last month after members of the groups turned up to confront him at his former home in Honiton and handed over the chat longs to the police.

Wood, aged 43, who is now homeless, admitted attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity and five counts of attempted sexual communication with a child.

He was ordered to attend a sex offenders’ treatment course as part of a three-year community order and do ten hours of rehabilitation activities by Judge Peter Johnson at Exeter Crown Court on Monday, August 19.

He put him on the sex offenders register and made a sexual harm prevention order which will enable the police to monitor his future use of the internet. Both orders will last for five years.

Judge Johnson told Wood: “You engaged in what was unusual activity for you but was reprehensible behaviour in attempting to youngsters who you thought were aged nine to 14.

“This order is appropriate for society, bearing in mind you have already suffered a punitive element by being in custody since your arrest.”

Nigel Wraith, prosecuting, said Wood used the fictitious name Jayson in a string of sexual communications on online messaging platforms.

The most serious was contact with a decoy claiming to be a nine-year-old girl

He told her he was 43 and said she must keep their chats secret ‘or I will go to prison’.

Mr Wraith said Wood carried out sexually-charged conversations with the decoy.

He sent the decoy a topless photo of himself and requested she send him a lewd image.

The court heard that all the other offences arose from online chats with four other decoys

Wood told one: “I like teeny girls who are into older men.”

Honiton man caught out in paedophile hunters’ sting

A man from Honiton has admitted sending sexual requests to what he thought was a nine-year-old girl, after being caught by paedophile hunters.

Mark Wood, aged 43, also communicated with a string of ‘children’ online without realising they were decoy profiles set up by paedophile hunting groups ‘Team Impact’ & ‘Phoenix Predator Hunters’

Another team called Keeping Kids Safe confronted Wood at his home address, before calling police

On Monday, August 12, Wood, of no fixed abode, admitted attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity and five counts of attempted sexual communication with a child.

Judge Peter Johnson adjourned his case at Exeter Crown Court until Friday to allow time for the probation service to find him somewhere to live if he does not receive an immediate jail sentence.

The judge remanded him in custody by warned him he may still go to jail. He said:”This was a persistent form of offending.”

Nigel Wraith, prosecuting, said the most serious offence was the attempted incitement, which has a starting point in the sentencing guidelines of six months jail and a range of up to three years.

Bathsheba Cassel, defending, said Wood has nowhere to live if he is released on a community order or suspended sentence but may be offered a place at the Gabriel House hostel in Smythen Street, Exeter.