AN offender previously jailed for inciting a 13-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity, repeated the offence, albeit with, unknown to him, a fictitious 11-year-old.

Joseph Matthew Rowe’s sentence in October 2016 included prohibitions on his internet use and contact with children under 16.

But, Durham Crown Court heard he under scrutiny again, in July, when the Child Online Safety Team (COST) notified police that Rowe had struck up internet conversation with what he thought to be an 11-year-old girl, but which, in reality, was a decoy profile.

Harry Hadfield, prosecuting, said the chat soon became sexualised in content with Rowe sending ‘her’ intimate pictures of himself, while asking the fictitious correspondent to perform a sex act, and to film it for his benefit.

Police went to his home and seized his phone, recovering proof of the online chat and images.

He was arrested on suspicion of attempting to incite a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, and, in interview, he admitted the offence and accepted he believed he was communicating with a real child.

The defendant, of Thomas Street, Craghead, near Stanley, admitted the charge at a plea hearing and was subject of a psychiatric report prior to sentence.

Richard Herrmann, mitigating, said, “by good fortune”, there was never a chance of it becoming a contact offence as there was no real child in this case.

But Judge Jonathan Carroll said: “As far as he was concerned he was dealing with a real child.”

Jailing him as an offender considered a danger to underage girls, Judge Jonathan Carroll passed an extended determinate sentence of four years in custody, followed by three years on licence.

It means Rowe cannot be considered for release by the Parole Board until he has served at least two-thirds of the custodial term.

He was also made subject of registration as a sex offender and further prohibitions under a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, both indefinitely.