A pervert was caught indulging in “reprehensible” sex chat online with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl.
Peter Bell, 57, contacted the profile of “Sophie Rose” on the Waplog app, told her she was beautiful and asked to chat on WhatsApp.
When told she was 14, he said he liked chatting with anyone “regardless of age” and went on to suggest they swapped pictures and asked if she was a virgin.
Michael Bunch, prosecuting, said Bell then sent a picture of his penis and told her what he wanted to do with it.
Mr Bunch said: “He asked for a picture of her breasts…and said he would like to meet her.
“He said people would assume she was his daughter.
“The conversation turned sexual…and he discussed looking at pornographic films.”
During the conversation, Bell suggested she could come to his house and stay over and he suggested coming to Scotland to see her and said they could get a hotel room.
He made vulgar comments about what he wanted to do and sent her an image of female genitals.
When the “girl” told him she was going to visit her aunt in Gateshead, he suggested meeting up, saying they could go for lunch “or could go to his house for a cuddle”.
An arrangement was made to meet at Gateshead Metro Station and the group who had been running the decoy profile – Keeping Kids Safe Scotland – arranged for local paedophile hunters group, Geordie Chasers, to attend.
At the initial meeting on April 14 last year, they missed each other but another was set up for April 20 and Bell was confronted.
When interviewed by police, he said it was all fantasy and that he thought the person he was talking to was an adult.
He claimed he had not gone to meet anyone at the station and was going to see his niece – but she rebutted that.
Bell, of Fern Drive, Dudley, North Tyneside, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming and was sentenced to a three-year community order with a sexual harm prevention order and sex offender registration for ten years and he must complete a sex offences treatment programme.
Recorder Toby Hedworth QC wanted to impose a suspended prison sentence but due to the pandemic, doing so would not have given probation enough time to complete the necessary work with him as the maximum period of a suspended sentence is two years.
The judge told him: “It’s apparent you have a completely inappropriate interest in young females.
“These were concerted attempts you made to meet what you believed to be a 14-year-old girl and you were seeking to meet her for sexual activity.
“It’s important the public understand that simply incarcerating you for a short period of time would not allow the issues you need to have addressed to be addressed.
“I need to be able to ensure, for the benefit of the public, that the attitudes you currently hold are confronted and dealt with by trained professionals.
“The only way I can do that during the pandemic is to impose a community order for three years.
“I would otherwise have attached the requirements to a suspended sentence but there are difficulties with that at the moment.”
The judge added: “If there’s any breach of the order, whoever comes to sentence him will do so on the basis he should have been subject to a suspended prison sentence.”
Adam Birkby, mitigating, said: “The public interest would be best served by ensure the underlying attitudes and proclivities are dealt with by trained professionals to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again.
“The pre-sentence report says he is a rather pathetic and lonely figure.
“He has used the anonymity of the internet to indulge in reprehensible fantasies.
“He seems unwilling to admit his true feelings.”