Published: 14:46, 13 June 2018
| Updated: 15:41, 13 June 2018
A perverted pensioner who was caught in a sting by a paedophile vigilante group outside a football ground has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.
James Smith denied a grooming charge but was convicted by a jury at Maidstone Crown Court in just 10 minutes on Tuesday and sentenced by Recorder David Osborne.
Members of The Hunted One pounced when the 70-year-old went to Chatham Town Football Club, at The Sports Ground, Maidstone Road, Chatham, in April believing he was meeting a child.
He had previously exchanged messages not realising they were with vigilante group members.
The police were called and Smith, of Luton, Bedfordshire, and now of Leeds, North Yorkshire, was arrested and initially bailed but police later charged him with grooming.
Steve Crispe saw the drama unfold.
At the time, he said: "I was there at about 2pm, there was already a police car there and a Lexus, which had a policeman at the wheel.
“The owner was apparently in the back of the police car.
“As the Lexus made its way out of the car park a group of youths appeared, some on quad bikes, and hurled a brick towards it.”
Det Ch Insp Emma Banks said afterwards: “I strongly discourage people taking the law into their own hands to avoid them and others, including individuals who may have been wrongfully identified, being put in any danger.
“Any acts of violence reported will always be fully investigated."
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