A man snared by a vigilante group as he engaged in vile online chat with what he thought was a 12-year-old girl has been jailed for almost four years.
Online paedophile hunters subjected 38-year-old Matthew Ferguson to a citizen’s arrest after almost four weeks of illegal activity.
Ferguson believed his criminal conversations, which quickly became sexually explicit, were with a 12-year-old female. In them, he made a series of lewd suggestions, one of which was accompanied by a crude photograph of himself.
Carlisle Crown Court was told today how Ferguson used his own name and photograph in the chat application communications. But he was detained by police having been confronted by members of the group at his home in Workington in March.
Ferguson, of King Street, later admitted five crimes, including attempted sexual communication with a child and attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in penetrative sexual activity.
The judge, Recorder Andrew Nuttall, read a raft of background reports about the defendant and observed he had a low IQ which was on the cusp of a learning disability.
Anthony Parkinson, defending, said in mitigation: “The defendant makes is clear to me that he understands an immediate custodial sentence is the almost inevitable outcome today, and in fact, he accepts that is the sentence that should be imposed.
“It is an unusual and perhaps refreshing situation where a defendant says to his counsel ‘I’m fully responsible for my actions in this particular case; what I did was repulsive, it was wrong’.”
Recorder Nuttall imposed a 45-month prison term. Ferguson must comply with the strict terms of a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years, and sign the sex offenders’ register.