Gateshead man jailed for trying to message children while posing as a woman online

David Hart communicated with girls, who he thought were aged between 12 and 14, but were decoy profiles set up by paedophile hunting groups. Credit: NCJMEDIA SYNDICATION

An online predator caught trying to messages children while posing as a woman has been jailed.

David Hart, 33, of Warwick Court, Gateshead, created a fake Facebook profile in the name of Sarah Hart to target youngsters and also used another profile of Sarah's supposed dad, Carl.

The girls he communicated with, aged between 12 and 14, were decoy profiles set up by paedophile hunting groups.

While using the fake profiles, he sent messages to several accounts he believed belonged to teenagers, sending explicit pictures and engaging in sexual chat. He also offered sex education and proposed to meet two girls in Saltwell Park.

A vigilante group attended his home and contacted police. He was arrested but persisted in the offending, getting back in touch with one of the profiles, which he thought was that of a 12-year-old girl, saying: "Don't worry it'll be our little secret".

Police were informed once more and he was arrested.

Hart pleaded guilty at Newcastle Crown Court to five counts of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, two of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming and four of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity.

He was jailed for 54 months and must sign the sex offenders register indefinitely and be subject to a sexual harm prevention order for 10 years.

Jamie Adams, mitigating, said: "He had found himself living in a high rise block of flats and he was very isolated."

Vicky Atkinson, district crown prosecutor at CPS North East, said: “David Hart was persistent in his attempts to groom his victims, making increasingly lurid suggestions to two girls via Facebook, who he believed to be cousins.

“In addition to highly sexualised conversation with the girls, he also attempted to incite them into sexual activity. However, he was wholly unaware that all of it was recorded and retained by a group trying to protect children online.

“The Crown Prosecution Service has drawn on that evidence to build a robust case against David Hart, who has been left with little alternative but to plead guilty to multiple charges against him.

“I would hope that this case might serve as a cautionary tale for those attempting such activity. Every single word you type could potentially be recorded and used as compelling evidence to support criminal charges against you.”

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