Pakistani illegal immigrant Al-Imran Ali was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to arranging to meet what he thought was a child for sex, but who turned out to be a member of the paedophile hunting group ‘Silent Justice’.
Ali, who lives in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, began a conversation last year with a 49-year-old woman from the civilian group believing her to be a 12-year-old named Nicola.
Across 12 days of private messaging on WhatsApp, the 34-year-old, who arrived on a student’s visa eight years ago that has since expired, the conversations became increasingly more sexual in nature, reports the Manchester Evening News.
The illegal immigrant asked ‘Nicola’ if she had a boyfriend and whether she had started her period and pestered her for pictures of herself. Ali arranged to meet ‘Nicola’ at the Salford Quays tram stop, telling the ‘decoy’ child not to wear any underwear.
Turning up to meet a child for sex in November carrying a condom and a burger from Burger King, the Pakistani was met by members of Silent Justice before being arrested.
The sting was streamed live on the group’s Facebook page, which had since been viewed by 40,000 people.
Initially, Ali told the court he had a condom because he had planned to visit a massage parlour and that he could not remember the chats he had had on WhatsApp.
He later admitted to one count of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming and was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment.
Judge Anthony Cross QC said: “Quite obviously you have a sexual interest in young female children, and your actions were clearly sexually motivated.”
Defending, Lindsay Orr said it was “highly likely” that Ali would be deported after his sentence was complete.
However, in a similar conviction earlier this month of Adil Sultan, 39, who arranged online to meet a child for sex and was subsequently caught in a paedo hunter sting operation, the migrant said he would seek asylum upon release because it would be “unsafe” for a convicted sex offender to return to Pakistan.
Orr told Manchester Crown Court that there would likely be “repercussions” when Ali returned to Pakistan, hinting that Ali, too, may consider an asylum application.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 20, 2018
This is the latest in a series of cases of paedophiles grooming children online brought to court thanks to evidence obtained by private sting operations.
Following Sultan’s conviction for planning to meet a 14-year-old for sex, based on evidence by Guardians of the North, 24-year-old Torquay man Richard Giles pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a nine-year-old via a decoy profile, with a video posted to the website UK Database describing him as a “vile offender”.
Figures obtained by the BBC show that in 2016, 44 per cent of court cases involving adults arranging online to meet children for sex in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland used evidence collected by paedophile hunters.
However, police leaders have come out against such groups, with the national lead for child protection at the National Police Chiefs’ Council Simon Bailey alleging that “[these] vigilante groups are putting the lives of children at risk.”
A report released this year by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) for the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse found that police lack the skills to tackle internet grooming.