Ottery paedophile caught in sting after trying to meet 14-year-old girl

Exeter Crown Court; Picture by Terry Ife ref exe 0931-33-10TI

Exeter Crown Court; Picture by Terry Ife ref exe 0931-33-10TI - Credit: Archant

An online groomer was trapped by a group of paedophile hunters after arranging to meet what he thought was a 14-year-old girl outside a cinema in Exeter.

Lewis West was seen hiding in a hedge near the Vue cinema on the Paris Street roundabout as he waited to see if the girl whom he knew as ‘Jennifer’ would turn up.

He came out of his hiding place when a young female decoy arrived but was confronted by members of the UK Database paedophile hunting group.

He had spent a week grooming the decoy and sent her a stream of sexualised messages and an indecent image. He instigated the meeting at the cinema on February 20 last year.

West was a contract worker who was staying in Ottery St Mary at the time.

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West, aged 38, of Godfrey Close, Oxford, admitted attempting to meet a child following grooming, three counts of making indecent images of children, and one of possession an extreme image of bestiality. He was ordered to undergo a 31 day sex offenders’ course and 20 days supervision during a three year community order by Judge Peter Johnson, at Exeter Crown Court on Wednesday (February 13).

He was also ordered to do 100 hours unpaid community work, was put on the sex offenders’ register for five years, and made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order which allows the police to monitor his online activity.

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Gareth Evans, prosecuting, said the fake profile of Jennifer was put online in early February last year and contact with West started on February 13.

He sent messages telling her he wanted to take part in various sex acts with her while she replied saying she was only 14, had never done anything like that, and was nervous. He brushed off her concerns, told her ‘it will be fun’ and arranged the meeting on the evening of February 20 outside the Vue cinema.

Police found 247 child abuse images on his phone, seven showing very serious abuse. There was also an indecent image involving an animal. He claimed he knew the online messages were a set-up and was playing along with it to find out who was behind it. He said he downloaded the images after smoking crack.

Emily Pitts, defending, said West wants help with his problems and welcomed the chance to take part in a treatment programme.

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