Finger-biting paedophile jailed for 10 years after child grooming sting
- Credit: Archant
A paedophile has been jailed for 10 years after biting off the finger of a ‘Catching Online Predators’ member during a Stevenage sting.
Thomas De-Castle-Lynne was handed the sentence at St Albans Crown Court on Monday for attempting to meet a child under 16, following grooming.
His offences also included common assault, a racially-aggravated public order offence and causing grievous bodily harm with intent.
The 46-year-old was confronted by vigilante group Catching Online Predators when he arrived at Stevenage railway station in April.
De-Castle-Lynne believed he would be meeting a 14-year-old girl named Maddie for sex in the woods, but instead was challenged by the paedophile hunters.
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He was restrained by Catching Online Predators member Stephen Little during a struggle. De-Castle-Lynne bit Mr Little’s finger so hard that the tip had to be amputated.
It was revealed during the trial in November that De-Castle-Lynne was also having Facebook conversations with three other decoy profiles set up by the paedophile hunters.
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The case was investigated by British Transport Police, which adopts an approach on paedophile hunting set by the National Police Chiefs’ Council.
Research carried out by the BBC last year shows that, in 2016, 44 per cent of court cases for the crime of meeting a child following sexual grooming used vigilante evidence.
At the time of the research, Chief Constable Simon Bailey – National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for child protection – said: “We understand the desire to protect children, but any member of the public who has information about child sexual abuse, online or otherwise, should get in contact with the police so we can investigate and bring people to justice.
“So-called paedophile hunters are taking risks they don’t understand and can undermine police investigations. Most importantly, unlike our officers, they have no way of safeguarding child victims.
“Our approach to these groups has not changed. We may consider working with these groups in certain instances, if it helps us protect children and we can manage the risks of their involvement.
“But this is not the solution to the problem of abuse. We are tackling child abuse by using undercover officers and covert resources to catch those seeking to groom children online.
“We need technology and software companies to support us by doing more to prevent offenders using their platforms to prey on children.”