IFA convicted of sexual grooming spared jail

IFA convicted of sexual grooming spared jail

A financial adviser snared trying to meet a 15-year-old girl for sex by a group of vigilantes was spared jail today (27 March).

Jonathan Hunt, 41, set up a profile on the internet site Badoo with the profile “looking for a pretty girls to date. Will treat you on dates and make you feel very special xx…”.

He began chatting with a girl called “Holly” whom he believed to be 15-years-old, telling her she was attractive and asking if she was looking for a date.

Hunt, of Rickmansworth, did not realise he was in fact talking to Sarah Doherty, a 36-year-old member of the Internet Interceptors vigilante group.

The director of Cedars IFA denied arranging to meet a girl under the age of 16 following grooming, but was convicted after trial at the Old Bailey.

He was spared jail today (27 Match) because he has spent the last six months in custody following his arrest.

TV presenter Esther Rantzen, the founder of charity Childline, was in court to watch proceedings as a guest of the judge.

Hunt denied one count of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming, claiming he only wanted to date the girl and not have sex with her.

But he was convicted after trial at the Old Bailey on a majority verdict.

Sentencing Hunt to 22 months jail, suspended for 18 months, Judge Anne Molyneux said: “Many of your messages were sexual in tone - you wanted a photo of her in her school uniform, you wanted to watch her undress in a changing room, you offered to buy her clothes.

“You wanted to buy her a mobile phone so she could send you photographs.

“You engaged in a graphic series of messages - you knew you were sending sexually graphic messages to a person you believed was 15-years-old.

“There's no excuse and no justification.

 “Penetrative sexual activity was intended. You offered gifts in the form of clothes and a mobile phone.

“You have shown some remorse about the content of the messages but no remorse over your intention to meet a 15-year-old girl.

“The damage of such a relationship even if non-sexual would have been incalculable.”

During his trial, the court heard how Hunt offered to take the teen for lunch and take her shopping, promising her he earned “loads of money” and that he could buy her things.

Between 8 and 14 September last year his messages to her became more sexually explicit, and he repeatedly tried to arrange to meet her. 

“Holly” repeatedly confirmed she was just 15-years-old, and that she couldn't stay up too late because she had school the following day.

He replied: “Haha of course. Would you date me though? I'd love to.”

Hunt repeatedly asked her to send him selfies, and when she told him the camera on her phone was broken he offered to buy her a new one.