A pervert who turned up with condoms and mattress in the rear of his van to meet a ‘teenage girl’ at a North East Hollywood Bowl was shocked to find police officers waiting for him.

David Spencer travelled from his County Durham home to meet the teenager at Teesside Park in July last year after spending almost a fortnight grooming her for sex.

Teesside Crown Court heard how he had been talking the ‘youngster’ without knowing he was actually sharing messages with an undercover police officer.

Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, said Spencer knew how old his intended target as the officer made it clear he was talking to a 14-year-old girl.

She said the conversation some turned sexual and the defendant started to make arrangements to meet up with the youngster.

“He told her to make some suggestions and then he would say yes or no,” Miss Atkinson said. “He was asked if he wanted to be ‘mates or more’ before suggesting that they delete the messages each day.”

Read more: Sick pervert abused four young girls for almost a decade before he was jailed

The court heard how Spencer agreed to meet her at Teesside Park after telling his intended target that they would need to use protection if they went on to have sex in the rear of his Mercedes Sprinter van.

She added: “On the day in question, July 18, officers were in fact at Teesside Park ready when the defendant arrived in his van.”

Spencer, of Clifford Street, Langley Park, near Durham, pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming after chatting to the undercover officer on a social media app.

The Northern Echo: Hollywood Bowl at Teesside Park. Picture: GOOGLEHollywood Bowl at Teesside Park. Picture: GOOGLE

Gary Wood, in mitigation, said his client had turned to alcohol and drugs when his relationship broke down and that resulted in him committing the offence.

He added: “He tells me that he is incredibly ashamed of his behaviour and found it really difficult to fess up the thoughts he was having when these conversations were taking place.

“He accepts that there was a level gratification in the conversation they had.”

Recorder Jamie Hill QC locked Spencer up for ten months for the ‘insidious way’ he conducted the grooming.

He added: “Over a period of 12 days in July last year you indulged in grooming behaviour towards a person you thought was a 14-year-old girl.

“It was clear by July 18 that you thought you were going to meet a 14-year-old girl and the fact that you went to that meeting with two condoms and bedding in the back of your van proves that you were expecting to have sexual intercourse.”

Spencer was also issued with a ten-year sexual harm prevention order and told to sign on the sex offenders’ register for the same period of time.

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