Man caught by vigilante paedophile hunters after attempting to groom young girls online

Court News
Court News

A man who groomed who he believed to be two young girls online, but turned out to be vigilante 'paedophile hunters' has been convicted, but escaped a prison sentence.

Justin Gotsell, 44, of Burcroft Road in Wisbech, came to police attention in November last year (2017) following a report from an Online Child Sexual Abuse Activist Group (OCAG), more commonly known as ‘paedophile hunters’.

Two girls, aged 12 and 14, were contacted by Gotsell through social media sites, but what he didn’t know is that these ‘girls’ were decoys set up by the activist group.

In the conversations, despite the ‘girls’ telling Gotsell their ages, he told them he fancied them and mentioned meeting somewhere where no one could see them, knowing it was wrong as he told the girls not to tell anyone.

On November 28 the ‘hunters’ confronted Gotsell and told him the girls he had been messaging were decoys and not real people. Police were called and Gotsell was arrested.

Gotsell pleaded guilty to two charges of grooming a child under the age of 13 at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court earlier this month.

Yesterday (Monday, May 21) at the same court he was made subject of a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (RAR) for 35 days, a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) for five years and a collection order. He has also been placed on the Sex Offenders Register for five years and ordered to pay a total of £270 in fines and costs.

Detective Constable Mark Yendley said: “Gotsell knew what he was doing was wrong yet he continued to groom the girls until he got caught out.

“Protecting our children from people such as him is a priority for the force, and no doubt the people of Cambridgeshire.”

If you have concerns about someone please contact police by calling 101, or dial 999 if a child is in immediate danger. Alternatively you can report information online at or find advice at