Lancashire man who groomed underage girls is jailed after being exposed by ‘paedophile hunters’

A man who groomed underage girls online has been jailed after he was exposed by ‘paedophile hunters’ in Blackburn.

Suleman Mahmood was ‘stung’ by an Online Child Abuse Activist Group (OCAG) who confronted him at his home in Dukes Brow on September 20, 2019.

He was accused of grooming girls he believed to be 13 and 14-years-old who he asked to send explicit images of themselves to him.

Mahmood was actually communicating with decoys from the online child protection group, but believed he was communicating with real children.

Suleman Mahmood, 28 and from Blackburn, has been jailed for five years and eight months. He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life.

Despite being told of the girls ages, 28-year-old Suleman Mahmood continued to send them sexually explicit messages.

In order to prove Mahmood was the person sending the messages, members of the OCAAG attended his home in Blackburn and confronted him.

Officers were then called to the address where they arrested Mahmood. At the scene, he signed a statement saying: “I will be honest. I have made a big mistake. I had no intention to meet them. I just wanted to make friends. I knew they were underage.”

But during a police interview afterwards, Mahmood refused to cooperate with detectives and answered ‘no comment’ to all questions put to him.

With the cooperation of the OCAAG and extensive investigation of digital evidence, detectives managed to establish that Mahmood believed he was talking to underage girls when he sent the highly sexualised messages and had incited them to engage in sexual activity.

It was established the offences took place between September 2, 2019, and September 10, 2019.

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In September 2020, Mahmood was charged with attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child; attempting to cause / incite a girl aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity; and attempting to cause a child aged 13 to 15 to watch / look at an image of sexual activity.

He was due to stand trial in May of this year. However, in April he pleaded guilty to the offences listed above.

Last week at Preston Crown Court, Judge Graham Knowles QC jailed Mahmood for five years and eight months.

He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life and made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, limiting his access to the internet and interaction with children.

“Mahmood is a sexual predator who attempted to groom and engage in sexual activity with underage girls,” said DC Claire Scott, of East CID.

"When he committed these offences, he genuinely believed – having been told by the decoys – that he was talking to real children. Despite knowing that he continued with his abhorrent behaviour.

“I am pleased with the sentence handed down to Mahmood and it reflects the danger that he presents to teenage girls. The associated court orders mean that Mahmood will be monitored by the authorities after he has been released from prison.

“We will continue to pursue and bring to justice, with the public’s help, those who seek to abuse youngsters for their own sexual gratification.

“I would like to thank OCAAG for their cooperation throughout this investigation.

"If anybody has concerns about an individual, I would always encourage them to contact the police in the first instance.

"We will thoroughly investigate those concerns and gather the evidence to put anybody who seeks to abuse children before the courts.”

You can report any concerns to police online at https://doitonline.lancashire.police.uk or call 101.