Whiston man snared by paedophile hunters is spared jail

Whiston man snared by paedophile hunters is spared jail

By David Parker | 03/06/2020

Whiston man snared by paedophile hunters is spared jail
Damien Kelly

 

A PAEDOPHILE who was caught by a vigilante gang after sending messages to fake underage girls has been spared jail.

Damien Kelly (39) sent sexual messages to three people who had posed as 14-year-old girls on an online dating site.

The predator was snared by paedophile hunting group One Reason in a confrontation outside his home in Reresby Crescent, Whiston, which was live-streamed on social media to 2,500 viewers, Sheffield Crown Court heard today (Wednesday).

Mr Tom Storey, prosecuting, said Kelly had sent messages to a girl in March, 2018, on the online dating site SayHi, which was aimed at over-18s.

The girl’s profile had said she was over 18 but when Kelly began sending her messages she said she was 14.

“He asked if she would be prepared to go out with someone older than her,” said Mr Storey.

Kelly asked the girl if she would like to meet up with him and asked if she would kiss him.

After the conversation had moved to WhatsApp Kelly asked the girl to send him photographs and asked her if they could “give it a go”, Mr Storey said.

“She responded to say, ‘I don’t know you’ and he asked when they could meet up,” said Mr Storey.

Kelly told the girl he would not do anything she was unsure of and, when she asked what he meant, he said feeling her between her legs.

He arranged to meet the girl in a Tesco car park in Barnsley on April 1, Mr Storey said.

Kelly drove round the car park and left but he had been spotted by a member of One Reason.

The gang tracked him down to his home address and the following day they confronted him while live-streaming to their online followers, Mr Storey said.

Police arrived shortly after the confrontation had begun and arrested Kelly.

Their investigation revealed that Kelly had spoken to two other fake girls who he had found on SayHi.

He asked one of the girls if she would hold hands and kiss, said Mr Storey.

“The defendant said if anyone saw them together, they could say that she was his daughter,” he said.

After the conversation moved to WhatsApp the messages became more sexualised and he told her he would “plump up her pillow”.

He asked all of the girls for voice recordings or more photographs but they would fob him off with excuses, said Mr Storey.

Kelly admitted at a previous hearing at Sheffield Crown Court to three counts of attempting to communicate sexually with a child and one count of attempting to incite a child into sexual activity.

Mitigating, Mr Andrew Smith said if One Reason had not been involved then Kelly might not have offended in the way he had.

“He has not gone to a website where there are under-18s on there,” he said.

Kelly was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, and was ordered to complete up to 30 days of rehabilitation activity requirement.

Sentencing, Judge Michael Slater said: “You have now seen what happens when someone treads dangerously into these areas of the internet.

“Please make sure you don’t do it again, otherwise you will be sent straight to prison.”