A 59-year-old man appeared in court today after a group of peadophile hunters caught him sending photographs of his penis to two decoy children.
Francis Higman of Curlew Road in Oldham has been sentenced for two counts of attempting to engage in sexual communications with a child.
Prosecuting, Joe Boyd outlined the nature of Higman's offences: “In each case, they arose as a result of STOP UK a peadophile hunting group. They set up accounts of supposed children.”
“On the 13th of March, he communicated with the decoy, Abigail, and continued until the 27th. He said he’d like to have a naked shower and sent a picture of his penis to her.”
"Eden Summers" was another decoy that was contacted by Higman.
Boyd explained that Higman had "no relevant previous convictions."
Defending Higman was Adam White: “He has no wishes to have any images of children at his home.”
“Almost a year ago, and has been on bail since he was in court after being investigated and caught by the pedophile hunting group. He made frank admissions to the probation service.”
“I make no attempt to minimise the conduct for which he is before the court. Something of an explanation was made to the probation service.”
“Loneliness is a cause. He leads a very isolated life. He has no family. He has no friends. His life is waking up, going to work on a construction site, returning home and watching television, and surfing the internet.”
Offers of financial support for the 13-year-old's to meet Higman including suggesting he would “pay for a hotel. I’ll pay for a train.”
MR Recorder Barnes was the judge who sentenced Higman and offered a frank warning to the defendant: “I must sentence you for an adult attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.
"The magistrates decided quite rightly their sentencing powers were not strong enough.”
"This is a pedophile-hunting case involving two decoys. You engaged in sexualised conversations until the 27th March when you were confronted at your home.”
“You engaged in those conversations and won the trust of those girls by telling them how beautiful they were and offering to pay for trains and hotels before trying to meet with them.”
“You manipulated what you thought were 13 years old girls into saying they loved you.”
“You told probation you were lonely. I had no doubt you were, but the conversations you knowingly had were with 13-year-old girls.”
“This was completely out of character and have no sexual offences on your record.”
“Decoy cases as they’re commonly known and are all but every bit as serious as any other. Thankfully the harm is reduced, but it brings people like you to the attention of the authorities. The culpability of your actions, however, is in no way diminished.”
“If I lock you up for 12 months, you’ll come out in 6 with nothing. Punishment is one thing, and rehabilitation is another. There is a realistic prospect you can be rehabilitated."
"In respect of each instance, there will be 12 months prison sentences suspended for 24 months. If you offend in the next 2 years you’ll be brought back to court and sent to prison unless there is a very good reason not to."
"You’ll have to continue with the Horizon programme and unpaid work too. If you fail to maintain these conditions, the probation service will breach you and you’ll be brought back before the court."
"There will be a sexual harm prevention order for the next 10 years. You must read that very carefully, as these will be the rules by which you live your life."