A man who turned up for a meeting with a 13-year-old girl in a Warwick park had been in contact with a number of other youngsters.
Fortunately on that occasion the girl did not actually exist – and Craig Withey was confronted by members of a vigilante group who detained him and contacted the police.
Withey (31) of St Michaels Road, Warwick, pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to two charges of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity.
He also admitted two charges of attempting to incite 13-year-old girls to view indecent images by sending images of him exposing himself.
But Judge Peter Cooke criticised the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for its failure to prepare a schedule of offences to be taken into consideration relating to ten other girls.
Prosecutor Sophie Murray said: “This is a case involving vigilantes, in which Mr Withey was engaging in inappropriate sexual communication with children.”
During online chats with two 13-year-old girls called Sienna and Sami, he asked them to send him indecent images and sent them intimate pictures of himself.
In February Withey asked Sienna to meet him in St Nicholas Park in Warwick, turning up with a blanket with the intention of having intercourse with her.
But in fact Sienna was a fake profile posted by members of a vigilante group calling itself Defending the Innocent who confronted Withey in the park.
They contacted the police and detained him for 30-40 minutes until officers arrived to arrest him.
His phone was seized, and on it the police found chat logs showing what had been going on, said Miss Murray.
Judge Cooke observed: “What transpired was that there were at least ten other girls with whom he had been in contact.”
He said that on a previous occasion he had adjourned the case and asked the CPS ‘to consider whether there should be a schedule of other offences,’ so Withey could be sentenced for his over-all offending.
"It seems the CPS has decided not to. On the face of it I’m constrained to deal with this man, who has done this to a dozen girls, on the basis of two. I would be interested to know what was behind that decision.”
Miss Murray said the response from a CPS representative to the judge’s request was simply that they would not be doing so, at which the judge declared: “This is not an explanation, it’s a declaration.
“The defendant is to be dealt with on the basis that he has done this with two girls, when we all know that the evidence is it’s a dozen.
“I have made this observation on a previous occasion. I do not do this for my own amusement. Go away and sort it.”
Pointing out that the prosecutor at the previous hearing had recommended that the CPS should prepare a schedule of other offences, Judge Cooke remarked that they should ‘get their act together.’
“The declaration ‘we are just not doing it’ will not do. It is completely unsatisfactory. I want it reconsidered.”
Adjourning the case again, and granting Withey bail, Judge Cooke told him: “I am very sorry. It is not your fault this has happened again.
“I am at a loss as to why this has not been considered in the way I asked.”