Married dad snared by paedophile hunters after grooming 'teenage girl'

Morgan thought he was exchanging WhatsApp messages with a 13-year-old girl. But 'she' was in fact paedophile hunters from Dark Justice.
Morgan thought he was exchanging WhatsApp messages with a 13-year-old girl. But 'she' was in fact paedophile hunters from Dark Justice.

A married dad told paedophile hunters: 'I am talking to my wife if you don't mind' when he was confronted after turning up to meet a child for an illegal sexual encounter.

Anthony Morgan thought he'd been chatting to a 13-year-old girl online - but had been duped by Dark Justice, a group which trawls the internet to expose men looking for underage sex.

The 51-year-old arranged to meet the 'teen', but was instead greeted by members of the group.

When confronted he denied he had done anything wrong, telling them he was speaking to his wife on the phone.

Morgan, of Lesbury Avenue, Shiremoor, North Tyneside, had engaged in graphic sexual chat over WhatsApp and asked to exchange illicit pictures with the 'girl'.

When a meeting was arranged he said 'it would be a waste of time going to meet her if there wasn't going to be something on offer'.

Morgan told the fake 13-year-old's profile that she was 'too shy' and said she needed to be more assertive.

In a bid to cover his tracks, Morgan asked for his number to be deleted from the girl's phone before they met and said people might call him a 'paedo'.

When he turned up at Newcastle city centre to meet his victim in August 2015, with a condom in his wallet, he was confronted by Dark Justice and arrested by the police.

Prosecutor David Lamb said: "Their conversations were examined. The Crown say there is a clear pattern of sexual grooming in conversations between the two of them.

"Following his arrest, he was searched and, while in police custody, a condom was removed by the police from his wallet."

At Newcastle Crown Court, Morgan pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.

Judge Amanda Rippon jailed him for 21 months and said he must sign the sex offenders' register for 10 years.

Morgan was also ordered to abide by the terms of a sexual harm prevention order for life.

The judge told him: "Although this is an attempt because the girl was not real, you actually travelled to meet her.

"If she had been real, I have no doubt, having read every single word of the chat logs, you would have committed a sexual offence against her.

"You made it plain it would have been a waste of your time unless something sexual was forthcoming."

Jonathan Devlin, defending, said Morgan, who has no previous history of sexual offending, has family commitments which include him being carer for his adult son.