Derbyshire dad who worked in schools snared by ‘paedophile hunters’ posing as teenage girl

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A Derbyshire dad whose job involved working at schools has ‘brought shame on his family’ and ‘lost everything’ since being caught in a sting organised by paedophile hunters.

Southern Derbyshire Magistrates’ Court heard how the vigilante group posed online as a 13-year-old called Gracie.

The ‘teenager’ began communicating with father-of-five Mark Hanson who soon told her he wanted to ‘lick chocolate off her body’ and asked her to send him pornographic pictures of herself.

The group handed over the disgusting WhatsApp messages to Derbyshire police and then streamed the 42-year-old’s arrest live on Facebook.

And the hearing was told he has quit his business, which saw him carry out grounds maintenance work at schools.

He also left the family home in Heanor.

Richard Jennings, for Hanson, said: “Prior to this, he was a family man with five children and he was a partner in a business. He was in a stable relationship for 23 years and he is now out of the family home and living in his car.

“He has given up the partnership of the business which was grounds maintenance with contracts at schools and educational establishments and clearly that is not appropriate.

“The paedophile hunters that caught him in their sting even videoed his arrest and put it on Facebook.

“There never was a 13-year-old girl, Gracie did not exist, and Mr Hanson never had any intention of meeting up with her.

“In short he has lost everything and brought shame upon his family.”

Natalie Evans, prosecuting, said the offending took place between November 26 and December 27, 2017.

She said the vigilantes set up an online profile for “Gracie” and that she and Hanson began exchanging messages via an application called Nearby and then over WhatsApp.

Mrs Evans said: “Gracie made it clear she was only 13 and the defendant’s messages began by asking her for cuddles.

“He soon asked her for images of herself and told her he wanted to lick chocolate off her body.

Mrs Evans said the group handed over the information to the police and then filmed Hanson, who has no previous convictions, being arrested before putting the footage online.

Hanson, now of no fixed address and formerly of Old Coppice Side, pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to incite a girl aged 13 into sexual activity.

Magistrates handed him a five-year sexual harm prevention order and placed him on the sex offender’s register for the same period of time.

They also handed Hanson a two-year community order, with 150 hours unpaid work, and ordered him to pay £85 prosecution costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

They told him: “We believe had you not been caught you would have carried on doing this.

“You must know the very unfortunate effect this has brought on your wife and the damage it has done to your children.

“You have let them down.”