Malcolm Pringle, who tried to have sex with the woman when she was a child, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison after his victim came forward because she saw him in a paedophile hunters’ sting online
A predator who attempted to have sex with a child 22 years ago has been brought to justice after a woman saw her abuser being confronted live on social media by vigilante paedophile hunters.
Malcolm Pringle, now 63, tried repeatedly to have sexual intercourse with the woman when she was a 10-year-old girl in the late 1990s.
He got away with his crimes against her until 2019 when he was lured into an online trap by the group, who posed as a 12-year-old girl.
Pringle asked the ‘girl’ to show him her chest and a few days later he was shocked to be confronted on his own doorstep by the vigilantes, who live streamed their visit on Facebook.
The woman who had been abused by Pringle in her childhood saw the Facebook confrontation and promptly contacted the police.
When Pringle was arrested he denied that he had ever touched the woman sexually but last week a jury at Gloucester Crown Court convicted him of two charges of attempted sexual intercourse with her.
He was jailed for thirteen years.
Pringle, of Baneberry rd, Robinswood, Gloucester, had pleaded guilty to the recent offence of trying to incite the fictitious girl into sexual activity in Feb 2019.
Prosecutor Giles Nelson told the jury at the start of the trial: “In February 2019 he communicated via Facebook with an individual he believed to be a 12-year-old girl but in fact was an adult who was part of a group which attempts to trap those looking for young children on a sexual basis.
“The live streaming on Facebook on March 17th that year came to the attention of a lady who had been abused by this defendant 22 years earlier and what she saw prompted her to alert the police.
“The defendant was interviewed by the police and said that absolutely nothing happened between him and this girl 22 years ago and it was pure fantasy.
“The prosecution say, however, that he tried on several occasions to have sexual intercourse with her when she was a primary schoolgirl. “
Pringle had told his victim, then a girl, to “bunk off” school by saying she was unwell.
He would then meet her and take her to a shop to buy her treats such as cherries or sweets before taking her home and try to have penetrative sex with her, the prosecutor said.
But the girl was not physically developed enough for him to be able to have full sex with her as he wished – which was why the charges were of attempted sexual intercourse, Mr Nelson explained.
Mr Nelson said Pringle repeatedly told the girl that what he was doing was normal and there was nothing wrong with it.
“He took advantage of her innocence,” said Mr Nelson.
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In evidence Pringle denied he had ever done anything sexual with the girl but the jury did not believe him and found him guilty of both charges.
In a victim impact statement, the abused woman said: “Throughout my childhood I found it difficult to trust anyone. I struggled to make friends. I believe this is because I bottled things up.
“I found it very hard to talk about things. I did not have any family members who I felt I could talk about things with.
“I feel I had my childhood taken away by Pringle. I can’t get it back. There are now very few men in my life who I can trust.
“I look at men as if they are all bad people. And I know I should not feel like that. The effects of this have made me feel dirty inside and I now class myself as damaged goods.
“I’ve often been told that this situation is not my fault. I struggle with intimacy in relationships.
“I suffer from flashbacks and even certain smells can trigger my distress.
“Going through this process has been hard as it has forced me to revisit the realisation that when I told people what had happened, I was not believed.
“I often wonder if this had been dealt with at the time I might have help dealing with the subsequent trauma of it.
“I am extremely anxious in social situations and suffer from panic attacks. This has caused me to become insular. I prefer to stay at home than go out.
“I am now in my mid-30s and I just hope that one day I can wash all this away.”
Passing sentence on Pringle, Judge Cullum said: “In 2019 your life unravelled when you started to talk online in a sexual manner to somebody you thought was a 12-year-old girl.
“You tried to get her to do sexual things. You wanted her to expose her breasts while you exposed yourself.
“You also told ‘her’ what you would like to do intimately with her by means of oral sex. Luckily this was no child. It was a ploy by a paedophile hunter group who filmed and exposed your activity. It was on this day your life unravelled.
“But back in the mid-1990s, a child’s life had already begun to unravel due to circumstances in her life and at your hands.
“Whatever pretext you used to take her out of school she came out willingly – only for you to abuse her.
“You plied her with sweets. She thought she was going out for a day of fun. It wasn’t. It was the day that would change her life irretrievably.”
The judge sentenced Pringle to 13 years in prison and extended the term with an additional two years parole, which means he could be recalled to prison anytime until November 2036.
The judge also made Pringle to an indefinite sexual harm prevention order, limiting his use of the internet and barred him from working with girls under the age of 16.
Pringle will have to sign the sex offenders register indefinitely.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.