A SEX offender “flagrantly” breached a suspended prison sentence, later on the day it was imposed, by repeating the offence, a court heard.

Craig Gilbert was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, at Durham Crown Court on March 1, after admitting attempting to incite what he believed was a 14-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity and arranging to meet “her” following sexual grooming.

The court heard, in reality, he fell for a sting set up by a paedophile-hunting vigilante group which set up the fake online profile of the girl.

As part of the sentence Gilbert was made subject of a seven-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO), prohibiting both his use of the Internet and communication with girls under 16.

But he was back before the court after he repeated the crimes, only this time with an actual 13-year-old girl, on the evening of his court appearance, on March 1.

He arranged to meet the girl for a sexual encounter, but she informed her grandparents, and it was brought to police attention.

Joanne Kidd, prosecuting, said he used the same profile name, Liam Stone, as in the March offence, so police paid him a visit on March 9.

Although he showed officers a mobile phone, which he claimed he had not used on the Internet, a tablet computer was found in a search.

It emerged both that and his phone had been used to access the Internet to contact up to 14 underage girls.

Miss Kidd said not only was this a breach of the order, the mere contact with the girl on March 1 put him in breach of the suspended sentence imposed the same day.

Gilbert, 29, of Unity Terrace, Stanley, admitted both breaches, plus three counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, causing or inciting a girl to engage in sexual activity and making an indecent photo of a child.

Susan Hirst, mitigating, told the court: “It’s clear he was going through a phase of his life committing these offences and for some time he did not acknowledge the problem he had.

“He does, now, acknowledge he needs help and realises how wrong it was.”

But Judge Jonathan Carroll told her: “On the very day he was given that chance, he immediately picked up where he left off, doing exactly what he had been doing. These were flagrant breaches.”

As Judge Carroll now considers Gilbert to be a dangerous offender to underage girls, he imposed a three-year prison sentence, with two years extended licence, and added the entire six-months of the suspended sentence consecutively. Gilbert was made subject of a SHPO and registration as a sex offender, both, “until further order”.