A Co Louth man has been jailed in England after a court found he flew to Britain with the intention of abducting and having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Declan Power was trapped by a paedophile hunter who set up a fake Facebook profile of a schoolgirl called Charlotte which was contacted by 58-year-old Power.
He sent sexual messages and arranged to meet the girl at her purported home in north Devon, where he planned to have sex with her at her home while her mother was out at work.
Power flew from Dublin to Bristol and took trains to Barnstaple but was met by the paedophile hunters instead of the girl and was arrested shortly afterwards.
He was carrying condoms in his luggage and return tickets for himself and the girl to return to Ireland two days later.
Chat logs showed he had told her she would have to disguise herself by dying her hair blonde and said she would have to remain in his home to avoid detection. He had even built a high fence around it to prevent neighbours from becoming suspicious.
‘Month of madness’
He was a health worker in Dundalk who had been single since his last relationship ended 13 years ago and was said to be isolated and fallen for the sting operation during “a month of madness”.
Power, of Commons Road, Dromiskin, admitted attempted sexual communications with a child and attempting to meet a child after grooming and was jailed for two years and four months by Judge Peter Johnson at Exeter crown court.
He told him: ”The date of birth of the purported girl was clear on the website. In fact, it was not a 13-year-old girl but a man acting as a decoy while investigating paedophiles such as yourself.
“Your plan was to sleep with Charlotte and to have penetrative sexual activity with her and to return with her to Ireland, where you were going to set up home together.
“It is said that you lacked guile but it was clear you planned to abduct her back to Éire. I take into account the length of time the intention was there and the planning involved. This case is so serious there must be immediate imprisonment.”
Greg Richardson, prosecuting, said the fake profile was posted on Facebook by a group calling themselves Secrets and Lies Confronted. It used a digitally manipulated image of an adult and lay dormant until Power sent a message on June 13th.
The girl’s age was made clear from the outset but Power continued sending messages in which he set out his abduction plan and organised to meet the girl at Barnstaple Station at 8.30pm on July 14th.
He initially used the pseudonym Simon Templar, the fictional character known as the Saint, but reverted to his own name by the time he travelled to Britain.
Adrian Chaplin, defending, said Power is a hard-working man with a job in the health sector who has never been in trouble before. He said he arranged to meet the girl at a time when he was very isolated.
He said: “Before this month of madness, he was of good character. He had not had a significant personal relationship for 13 years. He is utterly ashamed. It seems he acted out a fantasy about a sort of domestic situation which he sought to achieve.”