Northampton paedophile caught in sting after sending explicit texts to vigilante group posing as 14-year-old girl

A Northampton paedophile who was caught in a sting by an online vigilante group has been committed to a hospital order.

Wednesday, 25th September 2019, 1:50 pm
Joshua bell's arrest was livestreamed by vigilante group "PredaTor Hunters".
Joshua bell's arrest was livestreamed by vigilante group "PredaTor Hunters".

In late 2017, Joshua Bell, of Baker Street, Semilong, sent a string of graphic texts to what he thought was a 14-year-old girl he had met online.

They included requests for explicit pictures, an offer to buy her a taxi to his and back, and instructions of where to look up adult videos online.

But what the 25-year-old didn't know was he was in fact texting an online "paedophile hunter" group, who then visited Bell's house and live-streamed his arrest.

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In the texts, Bell made explicit demands of the "teenager" and asked for indecent pictures

The group, "Predator HunTers", then published Bell's messages on their Facebook page.

One exchange from the 25-year-old included: "Hi sexy how are you doing"

The group, posing as a teenage girl, replied: "I'm gud tnx just avin dinner at skool [sic.]"

"Do u know what rape is", answered Bell.

In another message, the "teenager" told Bell - who said he was 15 - she would be worried about going out to meet him.

"I'll pay you to come to mine and I will get a taxi there and back babe", replied the 25-year-old.

Bell was arrested in September 2017 after the group live-streamed a visit to his house and called the police.

He later pleaded guilty to four counts of attempting to arrange child sex offences.

At Northampton Crown Court yesterday (September 25), Bell was not handed jail time but instead detained for treatment in hospital following the evidence and reports of two psychiatrists.

Her Honour Judge Adrienne Lucking told Bell: "I'm satisfied that it is appropriate for you to be detained at hospital.

"It also means whenever you're no longer in hospital and if you begin having difficulties again the hospital will be able to come and collect you for further treatment."