Jail for man who sent indecent images to online paedophile hunter posing as schoolgirl

Carl Bennett

Carl Bennett was jailed for 28 months at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Suffolk Constabulary

A Suffolk man has been jailed after being snared by an online paedophile hunter posing as a 13-year-old girl.

Carl Bennett sent photos of his erect penis to a woman called Sarah Purser, from the vigilante group known as Innocent Voices, thinking she was a 13-year-old girl named Megan.

Ipswich Crown Court heard how Bennett had dealt with redundancy and relationship problems by taking cocaine and seeking "validation" in sexualised conversations with the decoy teen.

The 33-year-old, of Feltwell Place, Haverhill, had previously admitted two counts of attempting to cause a child to engage in sexual activity and one count of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.

The court heard how Bennett's messages became increasingly sexualised over a period of four months after he initiated contact by sending a friend request to a fake Facebook profile on April 4, 2019.

Prosecutor Richard Burrington said Bennett, claiming to be 22 years old, requested naked photos of the decoy and sent photos of his erect penis, and of himself masturbating.

He then asked her to masturbate and made several attempts at persuading her to meet for penetrative sexual activity in a variety of locations, including a hotel, a car and a forest, the court heard.

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Rob Pollington, mitigating, said Bennett had made some very poor choices while going through significant personal issues, including relationships struggles, redundancy and the arrival of an unplanned child.

Mr Pollington said Bennett showed a level of "problem-solving deficiency" through his choice to turn to cocaine and seek validation online, but had since come to a stark realisation and had re-evaluated his circumstances.

He said there was no suggestion of entrenched sexual feelings towards minors and that Bennett had since moved on significantly.

"I believe there is genuine hope for Mr Bennett to move on with his life in a far more positive way than a custodial sentence will achieve," he told the court. 

Recorder Jeremy Benson jailed Bennett for 28 months. He will also be subject to a sexual harm prevention order and must sign the sex offenders register for 10 years. 

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