Six years’ jail for sex offender (80) caught by paedophile hunters

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Peter Bennett
Peter Bennett was confronted in a live broadcast by the Stop paedophile hunter group (Photo: Stop)

A PERVERTED pensioner with a history of sexual offences against children stretching back more than five decades encouraged what he thought was a 12-year-old girl to have sex with her pet dog and a horse, a court heard.

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Peter Bennett (80), of Edward Road, Somerford, was jailed for five years and 10 months at Bournemouth Crown Court by Judge Alastair Malcolm, who branded him an “adept groomer”.

The judge ignored suggestions Bennett could be spared jail as he is suffering from cancer, noting the defendant had served several spells in prison since 1963 for sexual offences involving children and already been ordered to sign the sex offenders register for life.

Prosecutor Sadie Rizzo told the court a women from paedophile hunter group Stop created an online profile as a 12-year-old girl. Bennett began conversing with her in January.

Despite being told the girl in the profile was 12, Bennett’s conversation soon turned to “innuendo”, Ms Rizzo said, after the girl mentioned she owned a horse.

Over a two-month period Bennett had a series of conversations with the girl. Their chat ran to more than 200 A4 pages presented in court.

Peter Bennett being doorstepped (Photo: Stop)

“He quickly went to innuendo in relation to her horse,” Ms Rizzo said. “He then talks to her about what he says turns her on, that leads to talking about sex and then on to bestiality.

“Bennett then talks about her dog and encourages her to engage in intimate behaviour with her dog.

“He details sexual activity with a dog, says it is normal to do so, and can send her a photo of it being done.” He also described sexualised behaviour involving the horse, she said.

Bennett gave the fake girl his address. The Stop group passed it to another paedophile hunter group, which confronted him on his doorstep in March.

The encounter was live-streamed on Facebook and gained more than 100,000 views, Ms Rizzo said.

Police investigated and discovered Bennett also possessed 156 images of extreme animal pornography on two devices.

He admitted to officers on his arrest that he had engaged in sexualised chat with a minor online, but in a subsequent interview he answered “no comment” to all questions.

Ms Rizzo told the court Bennett had a “long history” of committing sexual offences against children and had been in prison several times.

His first offence in 1963 was an indecent assault on a female under 14 which resulted in Bennett being locked up. He reoffended against a female under 16 eight years later and was found in possession of obscene articles, but escaped with a suspended sentence.

The defendant’s most serious offence, Ms Rizzo said, was an incident in 1972 when he grabbed an 18-year-old girl, drove her to a secluded spot and got her to perform sexual acts – another offence which landed him in prison.

Bennett also had convictions for indecent exposure in 1969 and in the 1980s, and in 2006 appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court after he was found to have made and distributed more than 340 indecent images of children – 68 of which were at the most serious level.

This time the defendant pleaded guilty to three charges: attempting to incite or cause a girl under the age of 13 to engage in sexualised activity, attempting to communicate with a child in sexualised terms, and possessing extreme pornography.

Defence counsel Kevin Hill pointed out the victim in the case was not real, although he acknowledged his client’s long history of offending. He said probation suggested in a report that Bennett could serve his sentence in the community.

Mr Hill said his client was frail, elderly and had been diagnosed with cancer – his first chemotherapy appointment is set for early December.

But Judge Malcolm told Bennett: “You have been a danger to children under 16 for very many years. Your first offence was in the 1960s and you have targeted children decade by decade since that time.

“In this particular case it’s fortunate that there was not a 12-year-old girl at the other end of the chat, but you did not know that.

“As far as you were concerned there was a 12-year-old and you were getting sexual gratification by grooming her and trying to get her to commit offences of bestiality.

The judge added: “You are quite clearly an adept groomer”, noting Bennett knew her apparent age and during their conversation warned her about the dangers of her speaking to people online before engaging in sexualised chat.

“These are very serious offences. And they are made more serious by your long history of offending against children underage.”

As well as the prison term he also gave Bennett an indefinite sexual harm prevention order. This bans him, on his release from prison, from owning electronic devices unless they are registered and monitored by police, stops him deleting the history of any device and requires him to  make them available for inspection on request.

It also prohibits him encountering children other than inadvertently or living in a household with them unless their parent or guardian allows it and is aware of his convictions.

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