A paedophile caught arranging to meet a teenage boy in a vigilante online sting has had his jail term almost halved by top judges.
Steven Thomas Haldane chatted on social media to ‘Kyle’, who he believed was a 13-year-old boy, and arranged to meet him at Hastings railway station.
But ‘Kyle’ was in fact a fake persona, set up by some people who became suspicious of Haldane after seeing his social media pages – which openly revealed his attraction to young boys.
Officers arrested Haldane, at his home in Cambridge Gardens, Hastings, after he failed to show up for the meeting at the station.
They discovered he had a number of ‘sickening’ images of adults having sex with children on his computer equipment.
The 48-year-old admitted arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence and eight counts of downloading child pornography.
He was handed a 14-year extended sentence for public protection – made up of a nine-year jail term and five years on extended licence – at Lewes Crown Court in April.
But his jail term has now been slashed to five years and three months by judges sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court.
They said the original sentence was ‘too long’ in light of the fact Haldane did not go through with the meeting.
The court did not alter the extended licence period.
Mr Justice Blake, sitting with Lady Justice Hallett and Judge Juliet May QC, told the court Haldane was jailed in Scotland in the 1990s for indecency with a child.
He had been caught handcuffing a nine-year-old boy outside a primary school.
He admitted to police that he intended to abduct the boy.
Later, while on a sex offenders’ treatment course, he was ‘vocal’ in expressing his view that the age of sexual consent should be lowered to 12 for boys.
After moving to Hastings, he set up a social media page which made it clear he was attracted to young boys.
Some people who saw it were concerned and decided to lure him into a trap by setting up the fake profile.
During a number of exchanges in August last year, Haldane indicated he wanted to have sex with the fictitious ‘Kyle’ and arranged to meet him at the railway station.
Police were contacted and watched Haldane leave his house, although he never arrived at the station and told officers he had changed his mind.
He also said he never intended to meet ‘Kyle’ for sex, but wanted to support him through issues he had with his sexual identity.
His lawyers argued his custodial term was too long, given that there was no actual child involved and he did not go through with the plan to meet.
Allowing his appeal, Mr Justice Blake added: “In our judgment, there is substance in the submission that the judge fell into error and reached a term that was manifestly excessive.”
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