Barman caught in sting after arranging to meet boy jailed
A barman who thought he was meeting a 14-year-old boy for sex has been jailed for 10 months after he was caught in a secret sting by a vigilante group.
Simon Burrin, 37, who worked at Limes in Rosemary Lane, had admitting sending disgusting sex images to someone he believed was an underage teenager and then arranging to spend the night with him.
But Canterbury Crown Court heard the boy was in fact an anti-paedophile investigations group called Internet Interceptors.
It is believed to be one of the first cases involving such a group to be brought to Canterbury Crown Court.
Burrin, who now lives at a pub in Heathfield, East Sussex, had contacted what he thought was the teenager on dating app Grindr and sent him five images of himself.
He claimed he had just ended a seven-year relationship and was at a low ebb when he began the online exchange, offering to meet the boy after drinking.
Judge James O’mahony said he accepted Burrin was a hardworking man with no previous convictions for sexual offences.
But he added that the courts had a duty to protect children from potential activity such as this. He said the ‘victim’ was not a real boy and consenting adults could exchange sex talk online. “But the court must protect children from potential harm from sexual activity on the internet,” he added.
Burrin admitted two charges of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming and attempting to cause a child to watch a sexual act.
His arrest followed a covert operation carried out by Internet Interceptors, who claim he sent five indecent images to the ‘fake’ schoolboy.
The incident took place at about 10.30pm on July 25 this year, when the vigilantes confronted the member of staff as he worked behind the bar.
Five videos were then posted on the group’s Facebook page. In one, the barman says that he had only intended to meet the child for “cuddles”.
He is filmed saying: “I’m a silly boy, well, silly man really. I can’t explain it.”
Despite the conviction, Det Insp Rob Chitham, of Kent Police’s paedophile online investigation team, has warned against the actions of vigilante groups.
He said: “Taking the law into your own hands can be dangerous and inevitably leads to the identity of the alleged paedophile being revealed, often on the basis of little or flawed information.
“This frequently leads to suspects being threatened and diverts significant police resources into protecting them. I would like to reassure the public that we pro-actively target this type of offence and work hard to gather evidence in a lawful manner that will stand up in court.”
Simon Burrin has been jailed after he was trapped in a paedophile sting