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Online sting by vigilante group lured man into meeting fake 14-year-old for sex

NewsBy Sunday World
Dean Copley was arrested at Sheffield train station after police were alerted by an organisation called the Online Predator Investigation Team
Dean Copley was arrested at Sheffield train station after police were alerted by an organisation called the Online Predator Investigation Team

A 45-year-old man who tried to meet a fake 14-year-old girl for sex following a sting by a vigilante group has been jailed for three years.

Dean Copley was arrested at Sheffield train station after police were alerted by an organisation called the Online Predator Investigation Team (Opit), who had confronted him, according to British Transport Police (BTP).

Copley, of Renathorpe Road, Sheffield, had groomed what he thought was a teenager for weeks but did not know he had been interacting with the fake Facebook profile of a 14-year-old girl set up by Opit.

BTP said Opit accepted a friend request from Copley who immediately began to engage in topics of a sexual nature.

In the weeks leading up to the meeting, he sent explicit pictures of himself and made sexual approaches before suggesting meeting up.

The married couple behind Opit waited at the station in February, where they confronted Copley and alerted police who arrested him for attempted grooming.

Detectives said Copley admitted sending the pictures but claimed it was by mistake and that he thought he had been communicating with a 16-year-old.

He told officers he had realised the profile was fake but went ahead with the meeting to expose the people behind the sting to police.

Copley pleaded guilty to attempted grooming and was jailed for three years at Sheffield Crown Court by Judge Peter Kelson QC who also made him subject to a sexual harm prevention order.

According to BTP, Judge Kelson said: "Perverts must be stopped from preying on children.You wanted full sexual intercourse with a 14-year-old child.

"You were not trapped by this couple you were trapped by your own perverted lust."

Detective Inspector Mick Jackson, from BTP, said: "This is a significant sentence which sends out a clear message and will hopefully act as a deterrent.

"I would like to praise the efforts of the officers whose hard work brought Copley to court today and helped secure this conviction.

"The details of the case are a stark reminder that young people using social media must be vigilant. If the profile had in fact been that of a 14-year-old girl the consequences of Copley's intentions would have been extremely serious.

"Anyone who suspects online grooming activity should contact the police immediately."