Paedophile jailed after tip-off from vigilante group

Robert Hawes Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Hawes sent the fictional girls sexualised messages and images.

A paedophile has been jailed after being trapped by a group of online vigilantes.

Robert Hawes, 56, thought he was chatting to two girls aged 10 and 11 when he met them online.

The group tipped off police after Hawes arranged a meeting.

He pleaded guilty at Exeter Crown Court to attempting to incite a child to sexual activity and attempting to meet a child after grooming. He was jailed for 20 months.

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The court heard that Hawes, of Jubilee Road, Daventry, Northamptonshire, thought he was conversing with the girls he was actually exchanging messages with a group called The Hunted One.

They tracked him down to a holiday park in Woolacombe, North Devon where he was staying with his son, who was taking part in a junior rugby tour.

Police arrested him before the group had a chance to confront him.

Evidence of the chat logs and recorded phone calls led him to admit what he had done.

Mr Jonathan Barnes, prosecuting, said Hawes began his online conversations in internet chat rooms and sent his targets sexualised messages.

The vigilantes recorded his chat logs and a phone call in which he tried to arrange a meeting in the London area in April.

Miss Emily Pitts, defending, said Hawes had no intention of going through with the meeting and there was no risk to any child, even if the girl had been real rather than fictitious.

She said her client has been diagnosed with early stage dementia which he fears is deteriorating.

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