Paedophile who travelled 150 miles to North Tyneside to meet a 10-year-old girl jailed

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He hadn’t realised he was in fact talking to a police officer.

A convicted paedophile from Blackpool has been jailed after travelling 150 miles up to Wallsend to meet a 10-year-old girl for sex.

Mark Stephens, 67, drove from his home on the west coast to North Tyneside to meet a girl and her mother who he believed to be chatting to online.

Instead, he had been speaking to a police officer.

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Stephens sent countless messages stating his intentions with the child and offerred £400 to spend the night with them and record their time together.

Northumbria Police’s Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) launched an investigaion with Lancashire Police and the North East Regional Crime Unit to target Stephens.

Mark Stephens was sentenced to eight years.Mark Stephens was sentenced to eight years.
Mark Stephens was sentenced to eight years. | Police

When he travelled up to Silverlink retail park on April 12 last year, he was met by police and arrested.

Viagra and a gift for the child were recovered from his vehicle.

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The investigation by Northumbria Police found Stephens was being looked into by another force after unknowingly sending explicit messages to another officer the day before travelling to the North East.

He was subsequently charged with arranging the commission of a child sex offence, attempting to meet a girl under 16 with the intention of engaging in sexual activity and three counts of making indecent images.

The day after his arrest he appeared at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to all charges.

Additional charges were later brought and Stephens was later convicted of attempting sexual communication with a child and attempted breach of sexual harm prevention order.

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On Friday 30th March he was jailed for eight years and given an additional six years on extended licence, a deprivation order was also made by the court for the car he used to travel to Newcastle.

Detective Constable Rob Smoult from POLIT said: “This is a great result which reinforces our commitment to protecting children from predators like Stephens.

“He made his vile intentions very clear and the overwhelming evidence collated by the team ensured a swift charge and left him with no other option but to plead guilty at court.

“Stephens set out on a long journey across the country to meet a girl he knew was underage and thanks to a thorough operation by ourselves and our partners, we have placed a dangerous offender before the courts, and prevented him from harming any children.

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“We will continue to work with our partners to tackle online child abuse and sexual exploitation and would urge anyone who has been a victim of this type of offending, or has concerns about someone’s behaviour, to come forward and talk to us.”

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