A CONVICTED sex offender is behind bars after being caught with more than an hours worth of child sex abuse footage on his phone.

The harrowing footage, some in the most serious category, involved the abuse of young girls aged from two to eight.

Cameron Hatton was caught after an online paedophile hunting group alerted police after the 22-year-old was 'talking' to an underage girl.

Teesside Crown Court heard how a search of Hatton's digital devices uncovered dozens of child sex abuse images and films as well as a sexually explicit conversation with a real teenage girl.

Harry Hadfield, prosecuting, said Hatton had two previous convictions for possession of indecent images of children and had been made subject of a sexual harm prevention order and was placed on the sex offenders' register.

He told the court Hatton's mobile phone was seized in following the group's sting in August 2018 – just months after his first conviction.

Mr Hadfield said the sexual communication with a 15-year-old girl was the most serious charge.

He said the content of the text and Facebook messages was 'highly sexualised' and Hatton quizzed the teenager about her sexual experience before telling her his fantasy.

Hatton, of no fixed abode but formerly of the Teesside area, pleaded guilty to six charges, including arranging or facilitating a child sex offence involving sexual activity with a child in August 2018.

Three counts of making 71 indecent photographs of children, including 26 at the most serious level.

Failing to comply with notification requirements as a sex offender by not declaring the use of another name in August 2018 and breaching the conditions of his sexual harm prevention order (SHPO).

Michael Cahill, defending Hatton, urged the judge to take his client's guilty pleas into consideration before passing sentence.

He said the videos and images concerned in the current charges were downloaded at the same time as those used in his first conviction in 2018 but had been stored on an undeclared mobile phone since 2016.

Judge Jonathan Carroll told Hatton he was a danger to children before jailing him for four years and eight months and imposed a three year extended licence due to his 'obsessive' interest in young girls.

"It is quite clear that your sexual focus is on very young children indeed," he said.

The judge added: "You continue to deny any sexual interest in young girls – that is plainly not true. You are clearly sexually motivated, your motivation and targeting, is towards young females and it is a compulsion that is out of control in you."