A 39-year-old Englishman was lured into a real-life "To Catch A Predator" moment. Now, he's being locked up for creeping on a 14-year-old boy he met through social media.
The married man, Leslie Parkin, allegedly sent sexually suggestive photos to a teen named Jake, the Sunderland Echo reports. In a court proceeding, prosecutor Emma Dowling added,
He then gave Jake his home address, and arrangements were made for Jake to come to his house on the Saturday morning and sexual activity would take place, and the defendant would give Jake a bottle of lager if he came around. The police went to his house instead of Jake.
The catch, of course, is there was no "Jake."
There was just the Guardians of the North, a British watchdog group "dedicated to keeping our children safe from online grooming and paedophiles."
The group set up a fake profile posing as the teen. When Leslie invited the "boy" over, the man was blindsided, "Dateline" style.
The presiding judge on the case pressed Parkin further on the alleged actions, saying,
You invited Jake to your address, offering him a bottle of lager and you accept that was with the intention you should have penetrative sex with Jake. Of course Jake did not come, in fact the police came and arrested you, having been tipped off by the authors of the false persona.
According to the Echo, Parkin began flirting after about a week of exchanging messages with "Jake," eventually asking the boy for naked pictures.
During his trial at the Newcastle Crown Court, he was sentenced to two years behind bars. Amazingly, though, Parkin could end up spending no time in jail.
The judge said the man may have his sentence suspended and instead be given a chance to "address his offending and prevent future risk," the Echo reports.
Parkin's attorney, Lee Fish, defended his client, claiming the 39-year-old would address his problems. Fish also seemingly argued that there was ultimately no harm or foul done by Parkin.
Whatever was discussed online, it did not, in fact, occur, nor could it have done.
Citations: Sunderland Echo