Predatory paedophile stung twice by hunter groups after arranging to meet girls - Leeds Crown Court

A persistent paedophile who was locked up after being caught by a hunter group has been returned to prison after being stung twice more in a matter of days.

By Nick Frame
Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 12:17 pm

Craig Richardson, who was jailed last year for targeting what he thought was a young girl, pursued two teenagers online last December.

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Paedophile stung by hunter group after targeting '12-year-old girl'

But each of the teenager's profiles actually belonged to hunter groups looking to snare predatory paedophiles on the web.

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The court heard Craig Richardson had eight previous convictions for 12 offences.

His contact with them led to members of one of the groups confronting him at Castleford Bus Station where he had arranged to meet a youngster.

Prosecutor Bashir Ahmed told Leeds Crown Court that days before Christmas, Richardson started a chat with a 'girl' who told him she was underage from the outset.

He asked for a photo of her and then quickly began making sexual suggestions, including asking her for pictures of her on the toilet.

He arranged to meet her on January 3 but was confronted by members of Fighting Against the Evil, which livestreamed the sting before the police arrived.

Richardson, of School Street, Castleford, gave no comments during his police interview and was released as enquiries continued.

However, the 36-year-old had already been communicating with a fake decoy profile posted by the group Hunted and Confronted UK.

Again, he made sexual suggestions to what he thought was a 13-year-old and asked her to send photographs.

He was then confronted by the group before being taken away by the police and again refused to comment.

The court was told Richardson has eight previous convictions for 12 offences. The offences include attempting to incite a child into sexual activity in 2017 and again in 2021 when he was jailed for 18 months and given a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO).

He appeared for sentencing via video link from HMP Leeds where has been held on remand.

He admitted nine new charges relating to grooming youngsters over the internet, including counts of attempting to incite a child into sexual activity, attempting to cause a child to watch a sexual activity and breach of SHPO.

Mitigating for Richardson, Jane Cooper said: "There's not a great deal for me to say. In terms of his personal mitigation, this is a defendant with learning difficulties.

"He is an isolated individual who became more isolated from his previous conviction."

Judge Tom Bayliss QC deemed Richardson posed a serious risk of causing harm to children.

He said: "You went to Castleford Bus Station, and I'm quite sure, with the object of putting into practice what you were trying to arrange."

Richardson was given an eight-year prison sentence with an extended four-year licence period. He was also made the subject of a SHPO of indeterminate length, which includes limits on his internet use.

This article was first published by the Wakefield Express.