A MIDDLE-AGED man fell for a paedophile hunting group’s sting, engaging in sexualised online conversation with what he believed was a 14-year-old girl.

Mark Forster contacted the decoy profile of a girl, supposedly called Sophie Major, using the name StephenF, 42, and from Durham.

He was immediately told she was 14, but undeterred, asked her to download apps to allow photo sharing.

Anne Richardson, prosecuting, told Durham Crown Court that Forster did warn her, however, to, “take care”, as, “guys would want to send her photos” of their genitals.

He asked for photos of herself and a picture of a girl was sent to him, to which Forster told her she looked “very pretty”, but said she was too young for him to be talking to her.

But Miss Richardson said the conversation soon degenerated as he began querying what colour knickers she was wearing and asking for her bra size, plus other more intimate details.

When she failed to respond to some of his questions he became aggressive, threatening to tell her mother about their conversations.

Miss Richardson said at about this time Forster also began communicating with another decoy profile of an 18-year-old woman, who he bombarded with unanswered phone calls.

He was eventually detained and arrested after arriving at a planned rendezvous with the 18-year-old at Washington A1 Services.

Forster, of Calvert Terrace, Murton, admitted attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.

Jane Waugh, mitigating, told the court: “He’s 44, of previous good character and this is a source of great shame to him, especially in these circumstances.”

She said he was driven from his home as a resujlt and lost his job, but has found work as a delivery driver and taken steps to rehabilitate himself with a specialist agency.

Judge Ray Singh said once Forster was told the ‘girl’ was 14, he should have, “stopped right there.”

He imposed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, during which he must take part in a 90-day accredited sex offender programme and complete 30 rehabilitation activity days with the Probation Service.

Forster was also made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and notification as a sex offender, both for seven years.