A pervert caught by “paedophile hunters” after travelling to the borough to meet a nonexistent schoolgirl for sex has been jailed.
Grant Percival was caught at Leigh bus station in February in an amateur sting operation, after being tricked into meeting someone who had posed as a 15-year-old girl on a messaging app.
The 34-year-old, originally from Carlisle, had sent vile messages to the fictional girl called Amy, telling her that they could perform sexual acts in public, and had even booked a hotel room for them to return to.
At Bolton Crown Court, he was sentenced to two years in prison after admitting to inciting an under-aged girl, and must serve at least 16 months before he can apply for bail.
He had pleaded guilty to the offence at an earlier hearing at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court in February.
Percival had first contacted the decoy, who was actually an adult male from Leigh, earlier in the day before the incident on Sunday February 2.
Initially messaging in a friendly manner, the pervert’s texts soon turned sexual, telling Amy: “You look nice in your dress.”
He then sent messages detailing how the pair could “do something sexual” on the top deck of a bus while en route to the hotel.
Although the pair were talking on an app which required users to be over 18, it was iterated several times that Amy was only 15 years old.
The person running the profile even told Percival they hadn’t yet lost their virginity - but his vile intentions went undeterred.
He continued to hastily arrange to meet Amy later that day at the bus station, but was met by a team of paedophile hunters, who confronted him over his conduct.
The incident was recorded by friends of the decoy, who then posted the video online, chronicling their 20-minute encounter with him. The video ends just as police officers arrive at the station.
During the heated encounter, the decoy told him: “I was Amy, that was me,” before stating that he had told the man about the girl’s age several times. After reading some of the messages out to him, Percival fully admitted his intentions.
When given the chance to explain himself, he said: “I apologise for my behaviour. No lies.
“I messed up my life big time,” he added.
In a surprise turn, Percival even appeared to call 999 himself during the encounter, though it was unclear whether he actually called the police.
Sentencing, Judge Timothy Clayson, said: “You attempted to meet a child after sexually grooming them on February 2 - a matter you admitted before the magistrates.
“The facts of the case are that a fake profile for a 15-year-old girl was set up on an adult social media site. You contacted this profile and exchanged messages.
“You wanted to go to a hotel and wanted to engage in sexual activities with this person. You said you wanted to kiss her, have sex and for you two to be boyfriend and girlfriend.
“The profile indicated that they were a 15-year-old virgin but you still wanted to meet.”
He added: “It has to be said that because you have history and the fact that you have committed an offence of this nature, I do determine that you present a significant risk to members of the public.”
The judge sentenced Percival to two years in prison, with instructions that he serve at least 16 months imprisonment before being eligible for parole.
He was also served with a sexual harm prevention order for a period of 10 years.