A U.K. man was reportedly caught attempting to meet an underage girl by a vigilante group dedicated to stopping pedophiles (video below).
Jeremiah Mace, 65, allegedly thought he was going to meet up with a 13-year-old girl he met online. When he arrived at the Newcastle city center location, he was instead approached by members of Dark Justice, a group that poses as underage children online to catch pedophiles, the Daily Mail reported.
Mace was arrested and later taken to Newcastle Crown Court, where he pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a child after grooming, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and making indecent photographs of a child.
Prosecuting attorney Alec Burns told the court Mace first got into contact with the members of Dark Justice in August 2015 on the dating website Scout. The group posed as a 13-year-old virgin.
Mace allegedly asked the teen if she wanted him to "talk naughty" to her. He then reportedly told her he "wanted her in every way possible" and described in graphic detail what he wanted to do to her.
Mace also reportedly told the teen he didn’t believe she was ready for sexual intercourse but later asked "do you want it?"
They arranged to meet in Newcastle city center, and that’s when the Dark Justice members confronted him on camera.
The court also heard about unrelated chats between Mace and a 15-year-old girl. During their online conversations, Mace reportedly discussed taking the girl’s virginity.
The 15-year-old sent explicit photos of herself to Mace. She later told police she was “ashamed and humiliated” by their contact.
“At times I felt suicidal, I didn’t want to think back to what happened,” the teen said in a victim impact statement, according to the Daily Mail. “I wanted all of it to go away.”
The 15-year-old added that she felt “panicked and anxious” when walking alone in the street and needed counseling.
Defense attorney Julie Clemitson said Mace was willing to work with professionals to address his problems and added that Mace had never been in trouble with the law before.
Judge Robert Adams sentenced Mace to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years with rehabilitation requirements.
“You were unable to control yourself,” Adams told Mace.
The judge said Mace’s sentence could be suspended due to his ill health, which includes heart problems. He added that rehabilitation would better protect the public in the future than imprisoning Mace.
“An immediate sentence, although not impossible, would of course, in your circumstances be much more difficult than for someone who is able bodied,” Adams told Mace. “It would not deal with the ongoing risks you pose as a result if your sexual interests.”
Dark Justice was outraged by the sentence.
“Where is the justice for his victim who is scared to walk the streets alone because of him?” a Dark Justice spokesperson said. “He has been given no real punishment for destroying her life. What happened today was not justice.”
Mace will have to register as a sex offender for 10 years. He has been ordered to take part in sex offender group work and must abide by the Sexual Harm Prevention Order for life.