A DANGEROUS paedophile who arranged to have sex with a 10-year-old girl has been jailed after he was trapped by a police sting operation.
James Pidgeon believed he was meeting the abusive mother of the child when he arrived at a rented Airbnb which he paid £240 to hire. In fact, he was meeting an undercover police officer.
He set up the rendez-vous during a long series of online conversations in which he described himself as a ‘dirty old paedo guy’ and fantasised about carrying out sickening sex offences against the child.
Pidgeon is a former pub landlord whose business went bust after he was prosecuted for downloading more than 1,000 child abuse images in 2019.
He was a registered sex offender whose behaviour was supposed to be controlled by a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
He got round it by getting a new phone which he kept secret from the police and used to enter online chat rooms. He was already being investigated for uploading child images to a Kik account when police in Devon were alerted to the new offences by the North East Organised Crime Unit.
An officer had posed online claiming to be the mother of a 10-year-old girl who she was touting for sexual abuse. Pidgeon started a sexual conversation which led to 100 pages of transcript and sent 80 child images or videos, of which 28 showed child rape.
He arranged to meet the mother at an Airbnb in Torquay on July 7 and arrived with £240 cash to pay for it. He was arrested and his secret phone was seized.
One of his last messages had asked what was the correct etiquette ‘when a dirty old paedo guy’ meets the mother who was willing to have her daughter abused. He said he was so excited ‘that my teeth hurt’.
Pidgeon, aged 57, of Crest Hill, Buckfastleigh, admitted arranging or facilitating a child sex offence, breach of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, and three counts of distributing indecent images of children.
He was jailed for five years and six months with a five year extended licence by Judge Stephen Climie at Exeter Crown Court. The judge certified him as a sex offender and put him on the sex offenders’ register for life.
He told Pidgeon: ‘There was the potential, if this had not been an undercover officer, for the abuse of a young child.
‘An aggravating factor is your history and your admitted sexual interest in children.’
Miss Beth Rickerby, prosecuting, said Pidgeon uploaded a large number of illegal images to Kik in February 2021 and had been arrested and released under investigation when he committed the more serious offences.
He contacted an undercover officer in the North East on April 6 this year and carried on an online conversation until July before making phone contact and arranging to meet to have sex with a child.
The officer arranged an Airbnb at his request which he paid for when he arrived for the rendez-vous, where he was arrested.
Miss Rachel Smith, defending, said Pidgeon has made the first step towards reforming himself by acknowledging he has had a lifelong sexual interest in children.
She said his life had fallen apart as a result of publicity about his 2019 conviction which led to the collapse of his business and has left him with physical and mental health problems.