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Connor Leighton, caught by paedophile hunters in Newbury, had images of children aged six

A PREDATOR who was caught by paedophile hunters has been sentenced.

Connor Leighton thought he was talking to children aged 13 and 14 when he sent videos of himself committing a sexual act, telling one she was a “good girl” and urging her not to tell anyone.

Gotcha! Paedophile hunters' website
Gotcha! Paedophile hunters' website

Police subsequently caught the father-of-one with indecent images of children as young as six years old.

But he narrowly avoided an immediate prison sentence on Wednesday, January 17, after a judge at Reading Crown Court was told that, despite his being assessed as a “medium risk” to children, there was a realistic prospect of Leighton’s rehabilitation.

Since getting caught Leighton has moved from Newbury and changed his appearance, currently sporting a beard and long hair pulled back in a bun.

The 27-year-old, who now lives in Orchard Close, Didcot, Oxfordshire, admitted:

  • Making five indecent images of children in Category C
  • Trying to get sexual gratification by trying to communicate with a girl he believed was aged 13
  • Committing the same offence with a young girl by encouraging her to watch him committing a sex act
  • Encouraging someone he believed to be a 14-year-old girl to send him photos
  • Trying to engage an underage girl in sexual communication
  • Trying to engage another underage girl in sexual communication
  • Possessing prohibited images of children.

All the above offences were committed in Newbury between September 13 and September 22, 2021.

At Wednesday’s sentencing hearing, Gabriella Lewis, prosecuting, said Leighton had indulged in grooming behaviour.

Kelly Enever, defending, said her client had no previous convictions.

She said the paedophile hunters had live-streamed their citizens’ arrest online and added: “That had a huge impact on him and within the community at large.”

Ms Enever explained that Leighton had been open with his partner about his offending and that he was now a father.

Judge Hassan Khan said Leighton had sought to minimise his crimes by denying a sexual interest in children.

He pointed out Leighton had also searched for “inter familial pornography” and said he wanted to be sure social services were fully aware of the extent of his offending.

A probation officer had recommended a community order but Judge Khan said the offending had crossed the custody threshold.

He had been assessed as “a medium risk to children”.

Nevertheless, Judge Khan said, he was able to suspend the inevitable jail sentence.

Leighton was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for two years.

In addition, he was ordered to undergo mental health treatment.

Finally, Leighton was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register and was made subject to a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

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