Preston man snared by paedophile hunters at train station appears in court

A group of four 'paedophile hunters' confronted a man at Preston Railway Station as he tried to meet a person he believed was a 14 year old girl.

Friday, 31st July 2020, 3:45 pm

Preston Crown Court heard Garon Thornley, 34, of Bardsea Place, Ingol, Preston, was socially isolated due to having learning difficulties, and had struck up a friendship with the fictional schoolgirl on social media in November 2018.

Unknown to him, the account had been set up by individuals seeking out sex offenders online.

Prosecuting, Charlie Brown said by February 2019 Thornley had started to have conversations of a sexual nature with her, telling her she would not get pregnant as he would use precautions.

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Thornley spoke to the girl online

He used the pseudonym Daz Cartwright to 'friend request' the girl.

Mr Brown added: " The Facebook conversation was relatively innocent but it established the age of the parties - he said he was 32.

"He suggested they move to Whats App and as a result they did

"During the course of those conversations he increasingly sought to meet up.

"He discussed sex with her both in a personal and mechanical way explaining what it involved and asking her would she 'make love with him'. He explained it was wrong and that he would get into trouble."

The court heard Thornley sought out train times and arranged to meet the girl to 'go to the pub' and then have sex.

He attended the railway station but was confronted by people from London and Scotland who had travelled for the meeting, and they informed the British Transport Police, who arrested him.

His defence lawyer said he had been bullied at school. was socially isolated, and hasn't had a relationship for five years.

Thornley admitted attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, attempting to incite sexual activity with a child and attempting to meet a girl following grooming.

Sentencing, Judge Simon Newell said reports painted a picture of a "sad, lonely and socially isolated man" and acknowledged it had a "wholly different feel" to other cases where predators had deliberately sought out victims.

He added: " Your literacy skills and ability to write is far less than somebody who is aged 14, and there is a child like quality to the exchange of messages and the relationship.

"It doesn't make it right, but puts it in a proper context."

He received two years, suspended for two years, a seven year sexual harm prevention order and a rehabilitation requirement.