A Slough divorcee who was looking for a girlfriend travelled 200 miles to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex but was confronted by a group of adults who had been pretending to be the child.
Zubair Shah appeared in court on Friday and accepted having made the trip with the hope of sleeping with what he thought was an underage girl, one of 11 child sex offences which he admitted before a judge.
The 51-year-old, who is a father, had believed he was speaking to two girls, aged 13 and 12, for three months without realising he was being tricked by a paedophile hunting group going by the name Strike UK.
In a video which had been viewed more than 170,000 times, the paedophile hunters accused Shah of having travelled from his home in Slough, to Elsecar in Barnsley, South Yorkshire – an eight hour round trip – for the promise of meeting a fictional child.
A picture of Shah from his social media account, which was widely shared online following him being accosted, included the caption, “I am looking for girlfriend after marriage”.
Members of the self-proclaimed paedophile hunting group accused Shah of having purchased clothes for the fictional 13-year-old and her five-year-old sister, who they alleged Shah had also intended to meet – although he was only charged in relation to the older girl.
Shah was filmed apologising profusely and calling himself “stupid” before asking the paedophile hunters to kill him as they asked him why he had been sending sexual communications to the child.
The video showed Shah, wearing a baseball cap and a rain jacket, compliantly wheeling away his travel case to get into a police car which arrived to take him into custody.
Speaking through an Urdu interpreter in Reading Crown Court on July 24, Shah admitted nine counts of attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity, two counts of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence.
A lawyer defending Shah said: “Neither of the reported complainants were in fact young girls. They were adults.
“In addition, the defendant it seems – although the intention behind the text messages was clear – had assistance from technology in formulation of the text messages which were sent.”
Shah, of Alpha Street North, was bailed before a sentencing hearing on September 11, with conditions to report to Slough police station every Saturday and not to communicate with anyone under the age of 18 years. He also had to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register.
Judge Angela Morris told him: “The fact that I am going to give you bail and I am going to ask the probation service to prepare a report, is no promise or indication of what the likely sentence will be.
“You must not leave this court today thinking bail and the preparation of this report is some sort of promise. It is not.”
Shah denied and was acquitted of two counts of attempting sexual communication with a child.