A MAN in his fifties arranged to meet what he thought was a 14-year-old girl for a sexual liaison within hours of making contact on the internet.

Unknown to David Dunn, the ‘girl’ was a decoy profile posted on the dating site Fast Flirting by a member of the paedophile seeking vigilante group Newcastle Hunters.

Durham Crown Court heard the profile, ‘Mags07’, received contact from Dunn at about 4.20pm on December 3 and engaged in conversation in which it was made clear she was a female, aged 14.

Annelise Haugstad, prosecuting, said he requested a photo and a profile picture was provided.

Dunn soon brought the conversation round to sexual matters and suggested the ‘girl’ could perform a sex act on him while they went for a drive.

He arranged to meet her at Mill House Leisure Centre, in Hartlepool, and travelled there between 7 and 8pm, but on his approach he had cause to be concerned as members of the Newcastle Hunters group were waiting to greet him.

Miss Haugstad told the court Dunn quickly drove away, but his details were passed on to police and he was arrested.

The 52-year-old defendant, formerly of Stockton Avenue, Horden, told police that he was intending to meet the child to warn her of the danger of talking to men on the internet.

But, appearing before magistrates, subsequently, he admitted a charge of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.

The case was sent to the crown court for sentencing, after preparation of a background report on Dunn by the Probation Service, the author of which considered him as a “high risk” of causing harm to children.

Miss Haugstad told the court Dunn has 24 convictions for 65 offences on his record, but nothing previously of a sexual nature.

Martin Scarborough, for Dunn, told the court: “It is accepted by the defendant that in the light of his plea, he had the intention. He is aware of the earlier messages.

“He arrived at Mill House and was met by those who set up the decoy, and so drove off.

“He’s 52, but with nothing on his record for some time, and nothing at all of this type.

“He doesn’t excuse his actions by claiming an alcohol or drug addiction.

“He finds it difficult to explain, other than he was very lonely and very down after the break-up of a previous relationship.”

Mr Scarborough said Dunn has been in custody since losing his accommodation and handing himself in to police.

Following a three-day adjournment to see if accommodation could be found for the defendant, the case returned to court.

Mr Scarborough said the attempt to find a suitable address proved unsuccessful.

Judge James Adkin, therefore, imposed a ten-month prison sentence as no rehabilitation work could be attempted with Dunn in the community without a stable address.

He made Dunn subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, plus notification requirements as a sex offender, both for ten years.

The judge said Dunn acted “dizzylingly abruptly” in arranging a liaison so soon after making contact with the decoy on the internet, earlier that day

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on newsdesk@nne.co.uk or contact 01325 505054