Pervert who groomed 'teen' on social media spared jail after falling into Dark Justice trap

Damien Morton agreed to meet the non-existent girl at Manors Metro station. Pic: Google Maps.
Damien Morton agreed to meet the non-existent girl at Manors Metro station. Pic: Google Maps.

A shop worker who tried to groom a 13-year-old girl was snared after being caught on camera by paedophile hunters Dark Justice.

Damien Morton, 22, believed he was communicating on social media website Tagged with a teen called Charlotte.

However, the decoy account had been set up by Dark Justice - a group who track down men who are seeking sexual activity with underage girls.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how Morton continued to groom the young girl on What's App and told her about his desire to have sex with her.

Robin Turton, prosecuting, said: "'Charlotte' introduced herself again as the 13-year-old girl, 'remember me?' The defendant said 'yes'.

"There were various further conversations. These conversations made reference to meeting up after he finished work at Home Bargains and penetrative sexual activity."

Morton organised to meet the young girl the next day at Manors Metro station in Newcastle.

Mr Turton said: "Both the named individuals from Dark Justice and the police were waiting for the defendant when he attended at 7.30 at Manors Metro."

Morton, of Gill Street, Benwell, Newcastle, admitted attempting to meet a girl under 16 following grooming.

Jonathan Cousins, defending, told the court Morton was sexually inexperienced and had lost his job as a result of the conviction.

He told the court: "He's a sexually inexperienced man who had had little contacted with the opposite sex. He met the girl Charlotte on an adult website.

"The author of the pre sentence report recognised his lack of experience and his immaturity is something that requires further work with the treatment programme."

The Judge, Recorder Alistair Macdonald QC, told Morton: "You spoke in these conversations about the desire to have penetrative sex with that young girl.

"This is a very, very serious offence. Think yourself lucky in a way you engaged on this occasion with police rather than a young person.

"If you had gone through with it you would have been in a worse position."

Recorder Macdonald QC sentenced Morton to one year in prison, suspended for two years.

He also ordered Morton to sign the sex offenders' register, abide by a sexual offences prevention order and take part in a rehabilitation programme.