'Paedo hunter' sting catches man who used theme parks to groom kids
A rollercoaster fan has been jailed after he was caught in a sting set up by an online "paedo hunter" when he used an online theme parks forum as a cover to groom children.
Andrew Sealey, 39, of Manor Road, Milborne Port, Somerset, was jailed for three years and four months.
Sealey pleaded guilty at Southampton Crown Court to eight charges of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity and one of attempting to meet a child after sexual grooming.
He was arrested after he was caught by Shane Brannigan at Hampshire theme park Paultons Park, which incorporates Peppa Pig World, where he had arranged to meet a 15-year-old "girl" for sex in a toilet cubicle.
As well as the prison sentence, Judge Peter Henry also made him subject to a sexual harm prevention order and ordered the destruction of his mobile phone and laptop.
The judge said: "I have concerns about these types of stings. On the one hand I can fully understand the obvious concerns of the public and people who may therefore have been abused.
"On the other hand, to rely upon this activity of self-styled paedo hunters as a base for criminal prosecutions is fraught with dangers.
"In particular, there is a thin line between someone being entrapped or evidence not being admissible for some reason and a legitimate inquiry."
The court heard that Sealey's behaviour had raised concerns with an adult man, Gary Rogers Brennan, with whom he had been in contact with through the theme park forum.
After Sealey began chatting about performing sex acts, Mr Rogers Brennan set up a fake profile of a 15-year-old boy he called James.
Sealey began sexualised conversations with this fake profile and tried to arrange for the "boy" to meet him at Aldershot Football Club where the defendant worked as a steward but the meeting did not happen.
As Mr Rogers Brennan became increasingly concerned, he contacted self-styled "paedo hunter" Shane Brannigan, and created further profiles in the names of Alice and Jilly, who were aged about 14 or 15.
During the chats through Facebook Messenger, Sealey would encourage the youngsters to perform sex acts and he sent them pictures of his penis.
Simon Edwards, prosecuting, said: "The defendant ran an internet forum on theme parks and it was through that forum he had the ability to chat with people of both genders and all ages and that was the initial point of contact."
During his chat with Jilly, the "girl" that he arranged to meet at Paultons Park, Sealey said to her: "I said it's OK you being a virgin and 15, I don't mind."
It was at the theme park entrance that Mr Brannigan confronted Sealey, who had attended with his wife, and he was arrested by police.
Rob Griffiths, defending, said Sealey, who had no previous convictions, was "highly over-sexed" but added: "There was never any risk to children at Paultons Park.
"There was never any risk to any child because no child turned up or could have turned up."