Scarborough man avoids jail after sending online request for sexual photos of 14-year-old girl

A Scarborough man was caught by vigilantes after he sent an online request for sexual photos of a 14-year-old ‘girl’.

By Court Reporter
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 3:06 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th August 2022, 3:09 pm

Matthew John Prew, 27, was confronted by members of a “paedophile exposure group” who turned up at his home and live-streamed the confrontation on social media, York Crown Court heard.

The vigilante group handed evidence to police which showed that Prew had contacted what he thought to be a 14-year-old girl but was in fact an adult decoy posing as a child.

Prosecutor David Ward said that Prew, who is married, had contacted the ‘girl’ over a month-long period “for sexual gratification”.

York Crown Court.

The named vigilante group, which was “dedicated to finding paedophiles on the internet”, set up a decoy social-media account in the name of a fictitious girl aged 14.

The group uploaded photos of the ‘girl’ and Prew contacted the social-media account asking to meet the girl and “asking for sexual photos”.

But no photos were sent because, unbeknown to Prew, he was communicating with an adult decoy.

Instead, at about 11.30pm on April 29, two members of the group turned up at his home and “challenged him on his doorstep”.

Police were called to Prew’s home and he was arrested.

He was taken into custody and made full admissions.

“He stated that he did not search for under-age contacts but was initially merely responding to ‘friends’ suggestions made to him by the Facebook system,” said Mr Ward.

“He said he was suffering from depression and anxiety and struggled to make friends.

"He admitted asking the decoy for sexual photos.”

Prew, of Blands Cliff, admitted attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and appeared for sentence today (Thursday, August 4).

The offence occurred between March 23 and April 29.

Emily Calman, mitigating, was spared the need for mitigation after judge Simon Hickey said he would not be imposing a jail sentence due to the offence being “out of character” and the fact that Prew had pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

He also noted that Prew had fully co-operated with police and that his wife was standing by him.

Prew was given a two-year community order which includes a sex-offenders’ programme and rehabilitation activity.

He was also placed on the sex-offenders’ register for five years and made subject to a sexual-harm prevention order.