Kent

Bluewater paedophile sting man jailed

Mirza Beg was jailed for 40 months Image copyright Kent Police
Image caption Mirza Beg was jailed for three years and three months

A man confronted by self-styled paedophile hunters as he prepared to meet who he thought was a 14-year-old girl has been jailed.

The sting on Mirza Beg at Bluewater Shopping Centre was streamed on Facebook and had almost 250,000 views.

Beg, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to a child sex offence at Maidstone Crown Court.

The 29-year-old was jailed for three years and three months.

He thought he was meeting a girl called 'Scarlett', who he had sent sexual messages to online, but it was actually a fake identity created by the The Hunted One group.

The court heard how the sting descended into violence as another group of people launched an attack on Beg, who arrived with condoms.

Image copyright IAN CAPPER
Image caption Beg was stopped as he arrived at a bus stop at Bluewater

Judge David Griffith Jones said: "You plainly have a sexual interest in young children and a sentence of immediate imprisonment is demanded."

Prosecutor Tom Dunn said: "He sent 'her' pictures of him working in a Shisha bar. He told her that he loved her."

Beg also said she was his girlfriend and he would "teach" her about sex after their meeting on April 16.

On finding out 'Scarlett' was 14, he said "age doesn't matter."

Beg was stopped as he arrived at the bus stop outside the Greenhithe Marks and Spencer by Andy Bradstock, who had run the decoy account and other members of The Hunted One.

'Law into own hands'

He apologised immediately but then a second group arrived and launched an attack on him.

Mr Dunn said: "It's clear that Mr Bradstock and those with him and those at Bluewater were trying to stop the violence on Mr Beg."

Beg admitted arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence when he appeared in court in May.

He has been placed on the sex offenders register and made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order, which will restrict his access to the internet and his contact with children under the age of 16.

Kent Police urged the public "not take the law into their own hands".

The force said: "All allegations are taken seriously but police time spent investigating incidents involving 'pretend' children diverts them from investigating the actual abuse of children.

"The chances of an actual child meeting someone they've met online and becoming a victim of this sort of offence is extremely low."

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