Snapchat paedo who ‘catfished’ boys attacked by vigilantes who stormed his home

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A paedophile who used Snapchat to prey on young boys was attacked by a mob of vigilantes who stormed his home.

Matthew Atkinson, 36, used the social media site to set up a fake profile using an image of an "attractive" former female coworker to "catfish" young boys.

Jo Maxwell, prosecuting, said police received a report from the woman about a fake profile using her photo on July 8 last year, the Liverpool Echo reports.

The court heard she said "sexually explicit photos of underage boys" had been sent and received by the Snapchat profile.

The woman then told officers she suspected Atkinson was responsible.

Officers raided his home and found a sickening stash of child pornography, including images of child rape.

Atkinson, whose vile collection included photos of babies being molested, confessed to "sexual fantasies" about little boys.

Liverpool Crown Court today heard the pervert has since been attacked by men who "rampaged" through and vandalised his flat.

Police raided his home last August and seized mobile phones and a computer containing 457 indecent images of children, including children as young as 12 months.

Atkinson, who has previous convictions for theft, had also made online searches using child sexual abuse terms.

Atkinson admitted one count of possessing and three counts of downloading indecent images of children.

Tom Challinor, defending, said Atkinson abandoned claims made in a pre-sentence report that he wasn't sexually interested in children.

He said: "There is clearly minimisation in what was no doubt an awkward and embarrassing interview with the probation officer."

Mr Challinor said Atkinson had shown "considerable remorse" and was "thoroughly ashamed".

He said his client, who has emotionally unstable personality disorder, had "outside of the court setting" received "punishment".

The lawyer said: "On Monday of last week his front door and his car were attacked and covered in graffiti, which alluded to the fact that he was a sex offender.

"More seriously, last night he was attacked by a group of men who broke into his house and rampaged through the premises. They smashed windows. The police have been involved and are currently investigating."

Mr Challinor said Atkinson tried to take his own life last Thursday, when he took an overdose, suffered a cardiac arrest, was rushed to hospital and suffered another cardiac arrest.

He said Atkinson had voluntarily began a course with child sex abuse prevention charity The Lucy Faithfull Foundation and suggested he could be rehabilitated.

Mr Challinor said sentencing guidelines indicated a prison term with a starting point of 12 months, but that wouldn't help "turn him away" from more serious offending, involving contact with children.

Judge David Swinnerton said the indecent images included "extremely young" children and "babies being sexually abused".

He said Atkinson told a Probation Officer his childhood was "traumatic".

The judge said: "I would invite you to think just how traumatic the childhood is for children who are abused sexually, photographed, and then these photographs are distributed online in order for people like you to gain sexual pleasure by looking at them."

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He said Atkinson contributed to their abuse by providing a "market" for the photos.

The judge said none of the charges related to his activity on SnapChat, when he used a photo described by police as of an "attractive young woman", but it was "a troubling feature" of the case.

However, he said: "You were using that deliberately in order to entice conversation with young boys."

Judge Swinnerton said he would increase the starting point to 18 months because of the victims' young age and vulnerability, but his guilty plea reduced this to 12 months.

He said he would suspend that sentence for two years only because Atkinson could undergo an "intensive programme" suggested by the Probation Service and designed to make sure he never progressed from looking at images to touching children.

The judge said: "You haven't done that and I want to make absolutely sure you never do that."

He told Atkinson to attend a Horizon sex offenders treatment programme and to complete a 30-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement and 100 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Swinnerton said Atkinson must comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and sign on the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years.

  • Courts
  • Crime

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