A pervert who sent a picture of his genitals to two 'young girls' was shocked when they turned out to be undercover police officers.

Liam Turner contacted the 12 and 13-year-olds through the social media app Kik and started to send teh sick, sexually explicit messages to them before sending the unsolicited images of himself.

The 29-year-old contacted both of the decoys over a four-day period and the conversations quickly escalated to a sexual nature, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Paul Abrahams, prosecuting, said the defendant also encouraged to two decoys to sent him sexually explicit of themselves.

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He said: “He had sexual communication with both of them and asked the two girls for pictures and then sent picture of his penis.”

When Durham Constabulary arrested the defendant, they found one Category A image – the worst offence – on his mobile phone as well as 15 Category C images.

Turner, of Burnett Drive, Darlington, pleaded guilty to two charges of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child; two charges of attempting to send sexual images; and possession of category A and C images following his arrest in September 2021.

Dr Christopher Wood, mitigating, said his client was fully aware his offending had crossed the custody threshold but urged the judge to follow the recommendations in his pre-sentence report and suspend the sentence to enable him to continue working on addressing the cause of his offending.

He added: “He is regretful for his behaviour and regretful for the distress he could have caused.

“He is grateful that he wasn’t talking to real children but devastated that he hadn’t taken it on board that he shouldn’t have had these conversations in the first place.”

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Judge Paul Watson KC, the Recorder of Middlesbrough, said: “What you weren’t to know was that these children were not children but you were in communication with police officers posing as such.

“There’s no debate in my mind that each of these offences you committed, attempted sexual communication with a child, cross the custody threshold and only a custodial sentence can be justified.”

The judge sentenced Turner to 12 months in custody but suspended it for 18-months before ordering him to attend 30 rehabilitation activity days and carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

He was also made subject to a ten-year sexual harm prevention order and told he must sign on the sex offenders’ register for the same period of time.