August 2019

Man sending explicit messages snared by paedophile hunters

A Basingstoke man who sent sexually explicit messages to three accounts he thought belonged to children has been spared jail.

Vijay Barretto, 49, was snared by a group of paedophile hunters called The Original Team Hunters 25/8when he tried to meet the person behind an adult account after messaging people he believed were children. 

Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court heard how Barretto, of Queensbury Road, thought he was messaging two 13-year-olds and one 12-year-old when he asked: “I want to be naked with you?” and “Will you have my children?”.

According to the prosecution, Barretto had sent messages between November 30 and December 26, 2017 using “the type of language the Crown says is wholly inappropriate”.

“All three profiles made clear very early on that they were a child,” prosecutor David Fossler said. 

He appeared before Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court on Monday. 

In mitigation, Ms Bonavia said that there had been no indication of any offences before or since, and there was no indication that he was attempting to meet any children or decoys, likening it to a “sexual fantasy”.

He was confronted by paedophile hunters when attempting to meet the adult account.

She continued: “He appears to have become very isolated and was turning to gambling and using alcohol – he was in a bad place.”

Barretto had been working and sending money back to his family in India, with Ms Bonavia saying that if he loses his employment, “his whole point of being has gone”.

“He is doing the very best he can to recover the situation, certainly I do not think he has any inclination that he would be damaging people.

“He has demonstrated to the court that he is not someone who is an ongoing danger,” she continued.

Barretto was spared jail and was given an 18-month community order, including 35 rehabilitation activity days and 200 hours of unpaid work.

Mrs Ashton, Chair of Magistrates, said: “We make the order because we believe the cases are so serious.”

As well as the community order, Barretto was ordered to pay £85 in costs and an £85 victim surcharge.