Pensioner snared by paedophile hunters avoids prison
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
A pensioner who was snared by vigilante paedophile hunters after he tried to engage a 'decoy' 13-year-old schoolgirl into sexual activity has been spared prison.
Denis Lewis, of St Matthew's Street, Ipswich, thought he was talking to a 13-year-old girl named 'Hannah' on the Skout social network, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
But instead a paedophile hunter group named Cobra UK was behind the online profile of 'Hannah' and the conversation continued over two weeks.
Lewis, 69, was repeatedly told 'Hannah' was a 13-year-old schoolgirl but made sexual comments and talked about masturbation, David Wilson, prosecuting, told the court.
On November 27, 2018, police were called to his previous home address in Haverhill after the Cobra UK group gave information to the police.
Lewis was arrested and a computer and mobile phone were seized by police, Mr Wilson said.
Upon analysis of the devices, Lewis was found to be in possession of 71 indecent images of the most serious kind - category A - as well as 58 graded as category B.
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He was also found to have 140 category C images and 20 videos of that level along with four extreme pornographic images and one extreme pornographic video.
The court heard that the children depicted in the images ranged from three to five years old.
Lewis gave a 'no comment' interview to police on November 28, 2018, but did make some admissions when he was re-interviewed in June 2020, Mr Wilson said.
The court heard that Lewis has no previous convictions.
Lynne Shirley, mitigating, said Lewis had sought help from child abuse prevention charity the Lucy Faithfull Foundation.
She added Lewis had many supportive character references where people spoke of him "in a positive way".
Lewis previously pleaded guilty to attempting to incite a girl to engage in sexual activity, three counts of making indecent images and one charge of possessing extreme pornographic images.
Sentencing him on Thursday, Judge Rupert Overbury handed Lewis two years' imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered him to complete 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days.
Lewis was also made subject to notification requirements for 10 years and a 10-year sexual harm prevention order was imposed.
The judge also ordered Lewis to pay £350 in costs.