November 2019

Man who arranged to have sex with ‘girl’, 14, in a park ran away after being confronted by paedophile hunters

A man who arranged to have sex with a ‘girl’ in a park ran away after being confronted by paedophile hunters, a court heard.

Ashley Donaghy, 29, had sent sexual messages to who he believed were two girls, aged 12 and 14, on social media.

In fact the profiles were being operated by two adult women, who were part of the ‘One Reason’ group.

Donaghy, who has ‘learning difficulties’, suggested to the 14-year-old girl that they meet in a park, and they could have sex against a tree.

He was eventually confronted by members of the group on a canal bridge near Morrisons in Failsworth.

When he realised what was happening, Donaghy turned and ran off, dropping a bag containing glass bottles which smashed.

Donaghy, who ‘can’t get on a bus’ and is ‘unable to handle money’, said he had been drinking WKDs, which his barrister said the defendant had drunk to ‘pluck up the courage to go’.

The paedophile hunters then went to Donaghy’s home, and his father answered the door.

Later Donaghy, from Newton Heath, returned home. At first he said he was too frightened to go in the house because the paedophile hunters were still there, but he did when police arrived.

At Manchester Crown Court a judge spared Donaghy jail, saying that he needed to undergo rehabilitation.

Sentencing, Judge Timothy Smith told him: “I accept that for you the consequences of an immediate prison sentence would be far greater than others.

“You would be vulnerable in prison, and neither you or members of the public would receive any benefit from such a sentence.

“It would not allow any proper rehabilitation to take place.”

Prosecutor Charlotte Crangle told how Donaghy’s messages to the ’12-year-old’ quickly became overtly sexual, and how he ‘almost immediately’ sent an image of his genitals to the ’14-year-old’, and asked for some images from her.

Ahead of the proposed meeting, the 14-year-old told him she was ‘scared’ but he said ‘if she decided she didn’t want to do it then that was okay as well’.

Donaghy, who followed proceedings with the help of an intermediary, is ‘anxious, agitated and has compulsive behavioural problems’, his barrister Barry Grennan said.

“We are dealing with an individual who is very much less of an adult than most people at 29-years-old,” the lawyer added.

He said Donaghy’s life has been ‘fraught with difficulties’, and said there is ‘very little doubt’ that the defendant is autistic.

Donaghy is ‘socially isolated’ and hasn’t had a relationship during his life, the court heard.

Mr Grennan said it is ‘highly unlikely’ that Donaghy will ever appear before the court again, and that his parents have taken on a ‘supervisory’ role since the offences took place in March last year.

He said that in prison Donaghy would be ‘extremely vulnerable to abuse by those around him’, and quoted a pre-sentence report which stated that sending the defendant to prison would be ‘unhelpful’ and ‘unconstructive’.

Judge Smith agreed and imposed a two-year community order, which includes 50 rehabilitation activity requirement days, and a curfew for 18 weeks.