A PERVERT who sent a picture of his genitals to what he thought was a teenage girl has narrowly avoided an immediate prison sentence.

Martyn Vaughan started chatting to ‘Lily White’ online little knowing it was an adult member of the Wolf Pack Hunters group, who aim to catch paedophiles grooming youngsters.

The 29-year-old persuaded his target to start using the encrypted Whattsapp system where he started to send her explicit messages and photographs.

After a few days, the woman posing as the teenage girl became so concerned about the content that she contacted her local police force Avon and Somerset, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, the group had used a picture of one their members when she was teenager to pose as the 13-year-old Lily White and it didn’t take long before the conversation turned sexual.

Miss Atkinson said Vaughan sent the ‘girl’ a number of messages calling her gorgeous and flattering her before they started to take a more sinister turn when he began to talk to her about sex and ‘what he would like to do to her’.

In one message, she said: “He asked her if she had told anybody about him and he said he had told someone about her and he was advised that they shouldn’t be together as she was only 13.

“In January 2018, he asked her what she would like to do if they met up and he would go anywhere to make her happy.”

Vaughan, of Sherriff Street, pleaded guilty to engaging in sexual communication with a child, making indecent images of a child category B, making indecent images of a child category C and distributing one category A image – the one of his genitals – between December 2017 and January 2018.

Stephen Contstantine, in mitigation, urged the judge to suspend his sentence saying Vaughan had suffered his own personal problems and had remained out of trouble since the offences came to light two years ago.

Judge Paul Watson QC said: "It's still not entirely clear why it took quite so long for this case to come to court.

Vaughan was given an 18-month sentence, suspended for two years.

He was also given and indefinite sexual harm prevention order to tackle his offending.