A pervert who tried to meet a teenager for sex was caught when he was confronted by a team of online paedophile hunters.

Stephen Vincent sent the decoy an image of his naked torso and genitals while asking for photographs of the supposed 13-year-old girl.

The 58-year-old struck up the conversation with the decoy and it soon turned to a sexual nature, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Nigel Soppitt, prosecuting, said: “The decoy sent a picture of a young female to the defendant, he was told quite early in the conversation that she was 13-years-old – he said he was in his 30s.

“He started to ask her for photographs of her in her underwear and he sent a picture of himself showing his torso and genitals.

“He then asked to meet the girl and he asked for sex. She told him she had never had sex or even kissed a boy, yet he still asked her if she was a good kisser.”

Mr Soppitt said the defendant was then confronted by members of the paedophile hunting team before the police were contacted and he was arrested days later.

The court heard how Vincent had deleted most of the incriminating messages by the time he was arrested on January 5, 2023.

Vincent, of Grosvenor Gardens, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to attempting to meet a girl under 16 following grooming between December 31, 2022, and January 1, 2023.

Martin Scarborough, mitigating, said the defendant had learning difficulties and had attended, what he called a ‘special school’.

He added: “He is 58 and never offended like this in the past. He has Parkinson’s which impacts on his mobility and daily life.”

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Recorder Andrew Sutcliffe KC sentenced the defendant to two years in custody suspended for two years before ordering him to attend 35 rehabilitation activity requirement days to address his offending.

He added: “You have been given the opportunity to walk free from court today and not go to prison. You must ensure that you don’t engage in these actions again.

“Take this as a warning and never involve yourself in activities of this nature again.”

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