A man who drove from his home in Boroughbridge to meet an under-age teen ‘girl’ for sex in York has been jailed for 12 months.
Andrew Spink, 54, was expecting to meet with a 14-year-old whom he implored to wear “nice underwear”. Instead, he was confronted by a member of a 'paedophile-hunter group' shouting 'caught you.' York Crown Court heard that Spink took the bait after sending a series of sexually-charged messages.
Prosecutor Dan Cordey said the vigilante group, masquerading as a teenager, told Spink ‘she’ lived in Newport, South Wales, and asked him if he would like to meet up with her while was on a trip to see 'her' aunt in York.
Spink, a divorced father-of-two, agreed to the rendez-vous and told her to buy 'some nice underwear' while she was shopping. He turned up at a property in York at the appointed time but was met by a vigilante who tried to block him in with his car and reported him to police. Spink sped off but was later arrested at his home in Kirby Hill.
He pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming, a further charge of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, and attempting to engage in sexual communication with a girl under 16. The offences occurred between July 21 and August 13, 2017.
At the sentence hearing on Tuesday, Mr Cordey said the vigilante group - whose stated aim was to root out “webchat predators” - set up a fake social-media profile in the name of the fictional girl, which included a date of birth to show her age. Spink, whose username was ‘Andy North Yorks’, homed in on the fictional profile the day after it was set up in January 2017.
He asked the ‘girl’, “How’s you today?”, to which ‘she’ responded: “I’m ok thanks. I’m 14, by the way.”
Despite this, Spink bombarded ‘her’ with questions, asking what she was wearing, and telling her he would 'pick her up and go out shopping'.
“He said he would treat her,” added Mr Cordey. “He said he adored her.”
Spink, who is also a grandfather, showered the ‘girl’ with compliments, calling her “gorgeous, special and beautiful”.
During a subsequent chat on the Kik messenger app on July 22 that year, the ‘girl’ asked Spink if her age bothered him.
He replied: “Not as long as you are okay with mine.”
Spink asked the ‘girl’ to send him a picture of herself with her tongue sticking out In further messages, there were discussions about the ‘girl’ “being naked”.
He told her he wanted to “hold her all over and kiss her”, made sexually-suggestive remarks about intimate parts of her body and encouraged her to perform a sex act on herself, even giving instructions on how to do so.
“He said he would not be able to keep his hands off her if he was with her,” said Mr Cordey.
Defence barrister Keith Allen said Spink had never been in trouble before and was lonely and depressed at the time.
“He went on to use chatrooms as a result of his depression and loneliness,” added Mr Allen.
He said Spink was socially isolated and had debts at the time following the collapse of his marriage. Spink had been fired from his job after the vigilante group tipped off his bosses about the court case.
Judge Andrew Stubbs QC said a probation report suggested that Spink had sought to “minimise” his offending, albeit against a non-existent girl.
He told Spink: “You said you thought you were on a par with a 14-year-old girl because you were lonely and ‘she’ was lonely too. You were an adult and ‘she’ was a child, and that’s what you sought to exploit.”
In addition to the 12-month prison sentence, Spink was ordered to sign on the sex-offenders’ register for 10 years. He was also made subject to a sexual-harm prevention order, which will also run for 10 years and prohibits Spink from having any advertent contact with girls under 16 years of age.