A SEXUAL predator who groomed young teenagers for sex just days after he was released from prison was caught meeting a would-be victim after he was exposed by vigilante groups.

Matthew Jenart was branded a “dangerous offender” as he was jailed for six years after messaging three girls who he believed were aged between 12 and 14-years-old.

But the 35-year-old was unaware he was being lured into arrest by fake accounts set up by vigilantes committed to catching online groomers and paedophiles.

Teesside Crown Court heard Jenart began messaging the fabricated accounts for sex on the ‘Nearby’ App in April this year – just days after he was released from prison where he served a six and-a-half year sentence for taking a child without unlawful authorisation and possession of indecent images.

Jenart arranged to meet his first victim, a 14-year-old girl, at Middlesbrough train station where he planned to have sex with her in the station’s disabled toilet. But instead he was confronted by a member of Guardians of the North group and police officers who arrested him at the scene.

The attempted meeting came after countless messages to the fabricated girl called ‘Laurie’ asking for sex and naked pictures.

Vince Ward, prosecuting, said: “He had on him a mobile phone and police found some text messages between him and another girl called ‘Amy’ from the same App. She said she was 14 and lived in Newcastle.”

He added messages to a third girl called ‘Demi’ which was invented by vigilante group Decoy UK were also discovered on his phone, including a message from the girl saying she was 12-years-old.

Teesside Crown Court heard Jenart was first convicted in 2013 after a woman found messages to her 11-year-old daughter on social media. He was handed a suspended sentence and Sexual Harm Prevention Order but was back before the court two years later for taking 15-year-old girl away in his car and possessing and distributing indecent images of children.

During mitigation Elizabeth Muir, defending, said her client’s history “makes a concerning reading” but said Jenart has an “insight into his problems”.

She said: “He is a man when once released from custody in April asked not to be released because he had concerns he didn’t have the support to help him and prevent him from reoffending. He is aware of his issues but doesn’t wish to spend the rest of his life going in and out of custody.

“He knows he was only out for a matters of days when he was attempted to make contact with young girls. He knows he was going to get caught. He has an insight into his history and has little support network as a result.”

Handing Jenart six years in prison, Judge Deborah Sherwin said: “You made communication and in spite the girl telling you she was 14 the conversation quickly turned to sexual matters. You attempted to meet her in Middlesbrough, telling her which bus to catch from Gateshead. You asked if she wanted sex and suggested going to the toilet to do that.

“But you were confronted at the station by members of The Guardians of the North and your mobile phone was examined which exposed communications to other young girls. This included a girl who was 14 and included similar communications and requests. A third girl was set up by another group, Decoy UK, and she told you she was 12-years-old.

“On 12th March 2013 you were involved in inciting a child under the age of 13, who you thought was 11-years-old but it was her mother. There were also 11 indecent images of children found on two devices.

“In December 2015 there was a further offence of taking a child without lawful authorisation. This was a real 15-year-old and you took her in a car with you. More indecent images were found in your possession and you admitted to sharing these images with other people.

“You were sentenced to six and-a-half years and you were released on April 1st 2019 - the same month you started this offending.

“It seems you have learnt nothing from your time in prison. You are someone with a difficult upbringing and this offending has left you isolated and cut off from people who once cared for you.

“You should be remanded as a dangerous offender and I do not believe you have an insight into the damage such actions have on young girls.”

Jenart, of Middlesbrough Road, South Bank, Middlesbrough pleaded guilty to arranging commission of a child sex offence, attempting to meet a child following grooming, two counts of attempting to incite a child to engage penetrative sex and breaching of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.