A teenager trapped by a vigilante group while engaging in obscene online chat with what he believed to be a 13-year-old girl has been sentenced by a judge.
Daniel Pearson was publicly “exposed” when members of the group called from his Carlisle home and live streamed a showdown that drew more than 70,000 views.
Pearson had just turned 18 when his offense occurred early last year, the city’s crown court said. He got in touch with someone who “immediately” told him she was 13 and had a girl’s profile picture – but that turned out to be an adult lure.
Pearson encouraged her to send a nude photo, forwarded an obscene photo of himself, and suggested that their conversation be made private on WhatsApp.
Members of the Child Online Safety Team then reached out to Pearson, visited his home at the end of May, and set up the much-loved online feed.
Now 19, Pearson admitted to trying to get a child to engage in sexual activity.
The court heard that it was about a young man of good character who had found the public outing “traumatic”. He had shown remorse and was keen to learn from his mistakes, his lawyer said.
Judge Nicholas Barker, who also heard of the teenager’s troubled upbringing, imposed a three-year community order. He must complete an approved sex offender treatment course and complete a rehabilitation requirement.
“You have been ‘exposed’, to use the colloquial term, in a public manner,” Judge Barker said on sentence. “It seems, Daniel Pearson, that you are responsible for this and no one else; and the public humiliation which is occasioned by an individual’s crime is something which is entirely a consequence of your actions. This tribunal has little sympathy for you.
Pearson must sign the sex offender registry for five years.