Man sentenced to 20 years in prison after using Grindr for violent homophobic crime spree

Grindr, the gay dating app

A man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison – after he was found to be part of a crime ring used gay hook-up app Grindr to target victims in brutal homophobic attacks.

Four men – Anthony Shelton, 20; Nigel Garrett, 21; Chancler Encalade, 20; and Cameron Ajiduah, 19 – have now been jailed in connection with the spate of crimes in two Texas towns on the outskirts of Dallas.

The court heard that over a period of weeks the men used Grindr to arrange fake hook-ups with unsuspecting victims.

The men would travel to the victim’s address and force their way in brandishing a firearm – before assaulting and restraining the victims, robbing them, and humiliating them by shouting anti-gay slurs.

Shelton was today handed a 20-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to hate crime charges over the crime spree – the longest of the prison sentences for the four men.

Ajiduah was meanwhile sentenced to 15 years in prison.

At a previous hearing Garrett was jailed for 15 years, while Encalade was sentenced to 10 years behind bars.

A federal grand jury previously had returned an eighteen-count superseding indictment that included charges for hate crimes, kidnappings, carjackings, and the use of firearms to commit violent crimes.

Grindr (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

The indictment also charged the defendants with conspiring to cause bodily injury because of their victims’ sexual orientation during home invasions in Plano, Frisco, and Aubrey, Texas, from Jan. 17 to Feb. 7, 2017.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division said: “The Department of Justice will not tolerate any act of violence targeting individuals based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, color, religion, disability, or national origin.

“The Department will continue to investigate and prosecute hate crimes cases.”

U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown for the Eastern District of Texas said: “This case highlights the danger of the internet and specifically, online apps.

“In this case, the defendants misused the internet for sinister purposes in order to target an innocent man based on his sexual orientation, causing him bodily harm and damage to his property.”