Paedophile vigilante group's anger at 'lenient' sentence after Garstang sex offender walks free from court

A paedophile vigilante group has hit out after a sex offender was allowed to walk free from court despite admitting trying to meet a “child” he had groomed online.


Tony Lawson, from the Lancaster and Garstang area, was given a suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty at Newcastle Crown Court to a charge of “attempting to meet a boy under the age of 16, following grooming.”

Tony Lawson lives in Lancaster and has family links with Garstang.

Tony Lawson lives in Lancaster and has family links with Garstang.

Lawson, 37, was unmasked by the Guardians of the North group after he spoke several times over a six month period to an adult who pretended to be a 14-year-old boy.

They passed on information to the police and officers arrested Lawson in a village near his native Sunderland.

Members of the group were in court yesterday to see him given a 16-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months by Judge Edward Bindloss .

Later a spokesman stormed: “We are absolutely disgusted in the whole situation.

“Lawson spoke to a decoy on numerous occasions over six months, then he decided to meet what he believed to be a 14-year-old boy.

"It is massively frustrating, but it’s all we expect now. Our team work tirelessly day in day out and all for a suspended sentence. It’s an absolute joke.”

In addition to the suspended prison term, Lawson was also placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years.

He was given a 10-year sexual harm prevention order which is imposed on an individual who the court considers can pose a risk.

He also received a rehabilitation order, had all his online devices destroyed and was ordered to pay £1,500 in court costs.