A Kamloops man with developmental disabilities at the centre of a Creep Catchers sting will serve a six-month conditional sentence, after a B.C. judge ruled that he was coaxed into the incident by the vigilante group.
Loyd Douglas George Fawcett will also be on probation for two years, provincial court Justice Stella Frame wrote in her decision released Tuesday.
Fawcett had pleaded guilty to child luring, which carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of one year when convicted by indictment.
But Frame said that would be “grossly disproportionate” because of his cognitive disabilities and what she called an “unethical” sting by the vigilante group whose members are known for pretending to be underage girls on dating websites in efforts to lure out pedophiles.
“It is a misguided and ill-plotted case of Creep Catchers’ luring an intellectually challenged person who was seeking adult companionship into communicating with an imaginary 12-year-old,” Frame said.
According to court documents, Fawcett was on an adult dating app when he came across a profile of a 19-year-old woman named Taylor in late 2016.
Creep Catchers member Chantelle Bradner, who was behind the fake profile, began communicating with him. Eventually, she told him she was actually 12 years old.
Fawcett continued to communicate with her, sending her sexual messages. At one point, he said he’d like to marry her.
He eventually arranged to meet the girl, in February 2017. That’s when Creep Catchers showed up instead, with their camera out.
Frame called Fawcett’s actions “very serious.”
“Even when his cognitive challenges and naiveté are taken into account, there are still elements of subterfuge and grooming that are troubling.”
However, she also determined that without Bradner’s actions, the man wouldn’t have committed any crime.
“Chantelle Bradner essentially induced Mr. Fawcett into committing an offence that had not occurred to him to engage in,” she wrote, adding there is nothing to indicate pedophilia.
Judge considers man’s cognitive challenges
Much of the sentencing decision focused on Fawcett’s upbringing and learning challenges as a child.
He was deemed intelligently challenged as early as six years old and was raised by his grandparents for most of his life.
In 2004, he married his then-girlfriend after she got pregnant with their daughter.
However, the court heard he and his wife, who also had intellectual disabilities and possible substance dependence, were unable to care for the child. They separated without divorce in 2006 and their daughter went to live with Fawcett’s mother.
A court-ordered assessment found he is capable of making basic meals and helping out around his mother’s house, but he is “psychologically naïve and lacking in insight.”
Creep Catchers posted man’s telephone number, licence plate
Frame also determined that while Fawcett was never in danger, “almost certainly there was an obstruction of justice, mischief, interference in the administration of justice, and undermining of the rule of law from beginning to end” by Creep Catchers.
The court heard the group posted two YouTube videos that showed Fawcett’s identity, where he lived and the vehicle he drove. One of the videos contained his chat logs and his phone number, and had been viewed 2,000 times.
The judge considered the publicity of the videos in her sentencing, as well as the safety risk Fawcett faced after the group put the incident online before contacting police so officers could conduct a proper investigation and recommend charges.
“As I have said, the Creep Catchers induced a cognitively challenged person who was not setting out to commit an offence into committing an offence, preying upon his cognitive disabilities in the process,” Frame wrote.
“This reduces his moral blameworthiness along with the other factors I have mentioned. This is precisely why such vigilante organizations are dangerous to all citizens and interfere with the administration of justice.”