Former Honiton man caught inappropriately messaging ‘children’ online by three different vigilante groups

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

An internet predator who lived in Honiton was snared by three different groups of online paedophile hunters in just two months.

Mark Wood offered to give sex lessons to what he thought was a nine-year-old girl without realising he was in fact communicating with an adult who had posted a decoy profile on a chat site.

He sent similar obscene messages to four more decoy profiles, all created by paedophile hunting groups and claiming to be girls aged 13 or 14.

He was arrested last month after members of the groups turned up to confront him at his former home in Honiton and handed over the chat longs to the police.

Wood, aged 43, who is now homeless, admitted attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity and five counts of attempted sexual communication with a child.

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He was ordered to attend a sex offenders' treatment course as part of a three-year community order and do ten hours of rehabilitation activities by Judge Peter Johnson at Exeter Crown Court on Monday, August 19.

He put him on the sex offenders register and made a sexual harm prevention order which will enable the police to monitor his future use of the internet. Both orders will last for five years.

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Judge Johnson told Wood: "You engaged in what was unusual activity for you but was reprehensible behaviour in attempting to youngsters who you thought were aged nine to 14.

"This order is appropriate for society, bearing in mind you have already suffered a punitive element by being in custody since your arrest."

Nigel Wraith, prosecuting, said Wood used the fictitious name Jayson in a string of sexual communications on online messaging platforms.

The most serious was contact with a decoy claiming to be a nine-year-old girl called Lacey.

He told her he was 43 and said she must keep their chats secret 'or I will go to prison'.

Mr Wraith said Wood carried out sexually-charged conversations with the decoy.

He sent the decoy a topless photo of himself and requested she send him a lewd image.

The court heard that all the other offences arose from online chats with decoys using the names Kelly, Missy Mae, Natalia, and Beth.

Wood told one: "I like teeny girls who are into older men."

Bathsheba Cassel, defending, said Wood has been in jail since his arrest in July and the risk he poses would be addressed better by attending a sex offenders' course in the community rather than staying in prison.

Miss Cassel said Wood has already lost his home as a result of the arrest and hopes to stay in a hostel in Exeter until he find more permanent accommodation.

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