Man thought he was meeting girl off train at Durham Station

A MIDDLE-AGED man was detained by paedophile hunters as he waited for what he thought was to be the arrival of a 12-year-old girl to meet him at a railway station.

Andrew Simpson Hood, now 50, believed he had been communicating on social media with three different 12-year-olds for several months in 2019.

Durham Crown Court heard in each case he brought the chat around to gradually more graphic sexual matters.

After an exchange of messages and several phone calls, Hood believed he had successfully persuaded one girl to travel from Oxford by train to meet him at Durham Station, on October 27, that year.

He arranged to meet her off the train having said he would allow her to drink alcohol, shower naked with him and share his double bed providing she kept it secret.

Chris Wood, prosecuting, said Hood rang her on arrival at the station to tell her he was there to collect her.

But, outside the station, he was greeted by members of Innocent Voices, an online child activist group, who had set up all three decoy profiles which snared Hood.

They confronted him and informed police, who arrested him at the station.

Following initial denials as to his intent, he admitted he was there to meet a 12-year-old who was coming to stay with him, although he denied having had previous sexual conversations.

Hood, 50, formerly of Durham and Bishop Auckland, now living in Caldercruix in Lanarkshire, Scotland, admitted three counts of attempted sexual communication with a child and one of attempting to arrange or facilitate the commission of a child sex offence.

The court heard he has 52 convictions for 175 offences.

Chris Baker, for Hood, said he has mental health problems, learning difficulties and “vulnerabilities”, but with no previous convictions for any offence of this type.

“He’s made frank and full admissions and, if given the opportunity, the Probation Service could work with him.

“Since the offending, he’s taken steps to deal with his alcohol problems and is genuinely remorseful for what he has done.”

Judge James Adkin said arranging to meet children is treated seriously by the courts as defendants have, “taken the extra step” to have sexual contact with a child, rather than just communicating over the internet.

“Clearly your intention was to have sex with a child, aggravated by the fact you had engaged with three decoys.”

He imposed a 21-month prison sentence and made Hood subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and registration as a sex offender, both for ten years.

The Northern Echo | Durham