Police sting ends with registered sex offender arrested as he stepped off a train in Exmouth to meet a 13-year-old girl

PUBLISHED: 11:34 22 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:53 22 December 2017

Exeter Crown Court. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exeter crown court

Exeter Crown Court. Picture by Alex Walton. Ref exeter crown court

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Joseph Hampton, aged 31, from Torquay, was caught in Exmouth after being monitored by police who became aware he was using chat rooms, so created a fictional 13-year-old girl named Libby. He was jailed for seven and a half months by Recorder Mr Jonathan Barnes at Exeter Crown Court and ordered to sign on the sex offenders' register for a further ten years.

A registered sex offender has been jailed after he fell for a police sting operation in which an undercover officer posed as a 13-year-old girl in an internet chat room.

Joseph Hampton was caught in Exmouth after being monitored by police who became aware he was using chat rooms, so created a fictional 13-year-old girl named Libby.

Libby revealed her age at the very start of the contact but Hampton carried on sending her sexualised messages and then arranged to meet her in Exmouth.

He was intercepted by police as he stepped off a train at Exmouth station and was found with a ring which he planned to give Libby as a token of his love.

Hampton, aged 31, of Cleveland Road, Torquay, admitted attempting to meet a child following grooming and attempting to incite a girl to engage in sexual activity.

He was jailed for seven and a half months by Recorder Mr Jonathan Barnes at Exeter Crown Court and ordered to sign on the sex offenders’ register for a further ten years.

He told him his sentence would have been longer, but for reports showing he suffers from suspected autism and cognitive impairment.

He said: “You were a registered sex offender but you chose to go on chat sites with a name suggestive of an intention to make contact with young people.

“It seems that in fact you were in contact with an undercover police officer using the name Libby, who pretended to be a 13-year-old child.

“In many of the conversations you expressed a sexual interest and indicated what you wanted to do to her. In addition, you sent her a picture of yourself masturbating.

“You made an arrangement to meet her and the police arrested you at the station.”

Mr Lee Bremridge, prosecuting, said Hampton was on the register because he had been jailed for three years in 2007 for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy after plying him with drink.

An undercover police officer used the false identity of Libby to start an online chat in September this year which carried on through 40 messages and led to his arrest in Exmouth in October.

Mr Bremridge said: “He told Libby he was deleting his messages and encouraged her to do the same so they would not be found out. He arranged to meet her in Exmouth and was arrested.

“It is an indication of the extent of his infatuation that he was found with a ring which he described as a token for her.”

Mr Joss Ticehurst, defending, said Hampton is thought to be on the autistic scale and has cognitive deficiencies which prevented him understanding the seriousness of what he was doing at the time.

His mother had been killed when he was only 11 and he had never received proper counselling for his grief or for the resultant post traumatic stress disorder.

He had been in a healthy adult relationship since leaving jail and he and his girlfriend had a baby but had split up after the child was taken into care.

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