Paedophile-hunters have forced a pervert out of his property and onto the streets as a homeless man after they exposed him with an online trap.
Derby Crown Court heard on Wednesday, March 6, how Karl William Ratcliffe, 52, formerly of Church Court, Shirebrook, was tracked down by a paedophile-hunter gang calling itself “Taxi for Nonce UK” when one of its members went online pretending to be a young girl.
Prosecuting solicitor Sarah Allen said one of the group used a picture of a 13-to-14 year-old girl, who was her niece, to attract people who wish to communicate with young girls.
Ms Allen added: “She used a site called FastMeat and began speaking to Mr Ratcliffe and after initial contact they used whatsApp.”
The paedophile-hunter used the name ‘Sophie’ as a profile and claimed to be from Chilwell, Nottingham, according to Ms Allen.
She added: “During the course of the discussion she discussed going to school, her age and wearing underwear and tattooing her belly button.
“He asked her about her breasts, whether they were big or small, and she was asked to show her bottom and to show what she wears in bed and whether she was growing pubic hair.”
The defendant also referred to the girl washing her private parts when showering, according to Ms Allen, and suggested that she should touch herself.
Ms Allen said: “As a result of that activity he was traced by this group to his home address in Shirebrook where he was confronted and he made admissions to a male member of the group and police were called.”
The incident was publicised in the neighbourhood by the paedophile-hunters by live-streaming and Facebook, according to Ms Allen, which is why Ratcliffe was remanded in custody for his safety.
Unemployed Ratcliffe, who is of previous good character, pleaded guilty to attempting to cause a young female to engage in sexual activity and to attempting sexual communication with a child after the incident in January.
William Bennett, defending, said that because the paedophile-hunters chose to publicise what they were doing with feelings running high in the area it was not safe for Ratcliffe to go to his address so he ended-up remanded in custody.
He added: “He has lost his address and he does not want to go back there because of the risk to him.”
Mr Bennett said that Ratcliffe was a lonely man and when interest was shown by someone believed to be a 14-year-old girl he became involved out of loneliness.
He said that if Ratcliffe is released it will be as a sex-offender and he will be immediately homeless and there will be concerns for his safety and the safety of others.
Judge Jonathan Bennett told Ratcliffe: “I accept at 52 you are a very isolated individual and have little contact with your family and have not worked for several years with health problems and financial problems and you are a very lonely man.”
But Judge Bennett stressed that Ratcliffe deserved to go to prison for the offences he had committed because what he had done was “wholly inappropriate and wrong”.
But he recognised that work needed to be done with Ratcliffe to prevent future offending and to better protect the public.
Judge Bennett sentenced him to a two-year community order with a sex-offender programme and a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement.
Ratcliffe will also be forced to register as a sex offender with the authorities over five years and he was placed on a Sexual Harm Protection Order for five years.
Judge Bennett, who considered the involvement of the paedophile-hunters, told Ratcliffe: “Some of the methods of this group have other consequences as well. Never-the-less, you will have to find somewhere else to live.”
The judge also raised concerns that the photo of a niece of one of the paedophile-hunters had been used which had posed other risks.