Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Another Pervert Caught Grooming 'Girls' in Web Sting

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Another Pervert Caught Grooming 'Girls' in Web Sting

Article excerpt

Byline: Sara Nichol Reporter

TYNESIDE paedophile hunters have snared another child sex offender as he tried to groom underage girls online.

Mark Anthony Thornton believed he was speaking to two 13-year-old girls via social media as he tried to arrange meeting both of them for sex.

But, unbeknown to the 50-year-old pervert, he was actually talking to an "operative" from the Dark Justice group, which aims to catch online predators, in two sting operations.

Teesside Crown Court, where Thornton was jailed for two years, heard he tried to groom the fictitious victims, knowing their ages, and sending them graphic messages.

He encouraged the first 'victim' to take part in sex acts and tried to arrange a meeting in an internet chat on July 14, but no meeting took place.

Then he chatted to another nonexistent 13-year-old girl, sending pictures of his private parts, asking her for pictures and asking to meet her for "naughty fun" on July 25.

He asked for sex, telling her she would be "the youngest that he'd had" and claiming he previously had sex with a 15-year-old, said prosecutor Paul Abrahams.

Thornton said: "So you're looking to lose your virginity, baby."

When the Newcastle-based Dark Justice operative, posing as the girl, expressed fear about what would happen, sick Thornton assured her he would "be gentle".

They arranged to meet in a Darlington supermarket car park the next day where, instead of meeting a girl, Thornton was confronted by a man from Dark Justice.

The Dark Justice organisation contacted the police and Thornton was arrested.

Thornton admitted two charges of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity and two of attempting to meet a child for sexual activity. Maximum sentences for such offending reached as high as 10 years, the court was told. …

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