A PERVERT who sent a number of sexually explicit messages to 'young boys' has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Graham Thistlethwaite believed he was initially talking to an adult before being told he was interacting with a 12-year-old but continued to send depraved messages, Teesside Crown Court heard.

The 45-year-old was arrested when he was confronted by the decoys who he had been speaking with online.

Michael Smith, prosecuting, said the defendant set up a meeting with the 'young boy' in February last year to meet him for sexual activity before making contact with another decoy in March and again sharing sexually explicit messages.

Mr Smith said the defendant admitted 'making himself available to meet anybody, including children' when he was arrested.

Thistlethwaite, of Essex Close, Catterick Garrison, admitted two charges of sexual communication with a child and one of trying to meet child under 16.

Neil Cutte, in mitigation, said his client had suffered with mental health issues.

Recorder Craig Hassall QC sentenced Thistlethwaite to a 22-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He was also made subject of a ten-year sexual harm prevention order and ordered to attend 40 rehabilitation activity requirement days.