A WHEELCHAIR-bound pervert who groomed girls over social networking sites has been jailed after a mum posed as a 13-year-old schoolgirl.
Masquerading as a teenager called ‘Sweet as Candy’, the mum set a honey trap for Lee Crabtree.
She arranged to meet the 27-year-old, of Felton Avenue, South Shields, at Newcastle’s Haymarket Metro station, before calling the police.
Newcastle Crown Court heard yesterday how Crabtree had contacted four girls from across the UK, whose ages ranged from 11 to 13, over teenage social networking sites.
Pretending to be a 19-year-old, he told one of his victims that he “loved her”, before making a number of obscene suggestions, including asking for a “threesome” with one of her friends.
Crabtree, who has suffered from spina bifida since he was a child, asked to meet another of his victims, claiming he would kill himself if she did not go out with him.
Gavin Doig, prosecuting, said: “The mother of the 13-year-old then went online, posing as a child called ‘Sweet as Candy’.
“Crabtree contacted her and sent sexually explicit messages, and arranged to meet her at the Haymarket, telling her to wear loose clothes.
“The defendant travelled to the station and waited for an hour, where he was caught on CCTV.
“The mother contacted the police, and he was then arrested at his home.”
Evidence was then found on Crabtree’s phone of a fourth girl who he had contacted and had asked to “remove all her clothes”.
Andrew Finlay, defending, said the defendant had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to save his victims from having to come to court to give evidence.
He added: “He has engaged in conversation with girls who were hundreds of miles away.
“When he was rebuffed from arranging meetings, the girls did not hear anything more from him.
“We are dealing with a grooming situation here rather than anything else.”
Sentencing Crabtree to 12 months in jail, Judge John Evans said: “Social networking sites enable those who are inclined to behave in this way to do so very easily with limited prospects of being caught.
“These girls did recognise this behaviour was wrong, so they are all to be commended for the way they approached the situation.
“The reality is that all too often, girls do not have the maturity of mind to resist the pressures that can be applied to them.”
Addressing Crabtree, Judge Evans added: “This is behaviour that cannot be tolerated.”
Crabtree had pleaded guilty to four charges of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, and two of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.
He was also given a 10-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for the next 10 years.