Trucker jailed after being snared by paedophile hunter group at Whitby Abbey

A trucker who sent young ‘girls’ depraved pictures of himself was arrested in front of seaside tourists in Whitby after being snared by a “paedophile hunter group”.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 10:13 am
Updated Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 10:14 am

Ricki Pursglove, 48, was on a family holiday when he was confronted by the vigilantes in the grounds of Whitby Abbey, York Crown Court heard.

They had entrapped the married father-of-two during debauched online chats by posing as young girls in the months leading up to Pursglove’s arrest in the most public of settings.

The former army man is now serving a 28-month prison sentence after the sheer “persistence” of his debauched chats was outlined to the court.

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Ricki Jon Pursglove

Prosecutor Andrew Espley said Pursglove, from York, had been chatting to what he believed were four under-age girls on social platforms such as Whatsapp and Kik.

In reality, he was feeding priceless Crown Prosecution Evidence to adult “decoys”.

On August 7, 2019, one of the vigilantes called police to Whitby Abbey where he had confronted Pursglove and asked him “to move away from his family and crowds of people”.

Police arrived to arrest Pursglove and seized his mobile phone.

Pursglove had been chatting with what he thought were young girls between November 2018 and August 2019.

He told one of them that her profile picture was “stunning”.

The ‘girl’ told him she was 14 and he said he was in his 40s, lived in York with his wife and drove a tanker.

Pursglove called her “sweetheart, gorgeous, babe, sexy princess and baby girl”.

“He said it was a shame she wasn’t a little bit older because he would teach her a thing or two about life,” added Mr Espley.

“He asked her if she was sexually active.

"He began to teach her how to (perform a particular sexual act) ‘to make her happy and relaxed’.”

The ex-soldier sent the ‘girl’ videos of himself performing a lewd act from inside his truck.

One of the images, in which he exposed an intimate part of his body, was taken at a service station.

There were hundreds of messages exchanged between Pursglove and the decoys, all of whom used pseudonyms to give the appearance of being young girls.

He messaged at least one of them for several months.

Pursglove contacted another decoy in June or July 2019 with whom he chatted on Kik and another social platform called Chat House.

He sent the decoy, who was masquerading as a 14-year-old girl, three videos of himself performing a lewd act and told her he would like to perform very serious sexual acts on her.

“He told her how (sex acts) worked between men and women,” added Mr Espley.

During voice messages, Pursglove told the ‘girl’ he had taken a line of cocaine in the back of his lorry.

He urged her to delete the messages.

“He said he would love to see her but that the Government and the law would probably see it another way and he would probably go to jail,” said Mr Espley.

Pursglove messaged the third ‘girl’ on Chat House.

She told him she was 14 years’ old and then the “conversation rapidly became sexual”.

Pursglove sent her two pictures of an intimate part of his body.

Another decoy, posing as a 12-year-old girl called Alicia, was messaged by Pursglove in November 2018 when he told her “What a little stunner she is”.

He contacted her again in May 2019, sending pictures of himself performing a lewd act.

Mr Espley said Pursglove had groomed the ‘girls’ by flattery.

When he was finally arrested in Whitby, he told police he “knew the game was up”.

Andrew Semple, for Pursglove, said the trucker and former family man felt “genuine, deep shame” for his behaviour.

He said Pursglove, who served in the army for eight years before getting his HGV licence, had been “divorced from reality” during long hours on the road and had engaged in “fantasy” chats with the ‘girls’.

Pursglove’s behaviour was “hard to fathom” because he had been a good father and husband who had lived a largely blameless life.

Since the “sting” by the vigilante group two years ago, Pursglove had been estranged from his family and had been “living out of his cab”.

Pursglove, now of no fixed address, admitted multiple offences including attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, attempting to cause a child to look at an image of sexual activity and attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.

He also admitted two counts of making indecent images of children.

One was a Category A image - the worst kind of such material - and the other a Category C photo.

These offences occurred in 2013.

He appeared for sentence on Tuesday.

Judge Simon Hickey said that despite the “powerful” mitigation including Pursglove’s previous “good character” and the isolation he felt while driving around the country in his HGV, the offences were so serious that only an immediate jail sentence could be justified.

Pursglove was jailed for two years and four months and placed on the sex-offenders’ register for 10 years.

He was also slapped with a sexual-harm prevention order to curb his online activities.

This order will also run for 10 years.