A postman who was caught on video by paedophile hunters attempting to meet a 14-year-old girl for sex has been spared jail.
Simon Smith travelled 170 miles from his home in Kilmarnock in Scotland to Gateshead to meet the teenager he thought he had been communicating with on Facebook messenger.
But the fake profile had been set up by Guardians of the North who confronted the 46-year-old at the Metro Shopping Centre.
Jonathan Devlin, prosecuting, told Newcastle Crown Court that Smith contacted the fictitious profile before organising to meet the ’14-year-old girl’ on November 26 and take her Christmas shopping.
He said: ‘The conversation began by him posting a false image on his profile. He asked the person he communicated with her age and her response was “14”.
‘He posted a photo of a muscly young man in a gymnasium. He said he was 45 and asked if she was bothered.
‘He said ‘some girls’ refuse to continue to speak to me when I tell them my age’.
‘It indicated he knows he was doing wrong.’
Mr Devlin told the court how the conversation began to stray towards ‘sexual matters’ and he referred to the image of a decoy posted by Guardians of the North as a ‘blonde stunner’.
He said: ‘He asked what her breast size was and said she was very sexy. ‘He asked for an image of her wearing her pyjamas which was not sent.
‘He asked on a number of occasions for her to describe what she was wearing. ‘She said she has to chase the dog down the street and he said ‘did that make your nipples erect?’
‘He bet that she had a fine ass and said she should be wearing white clothes if she’s a virgin.’
Mr Devlin said the conversation remained sexual and there was talk of kissing, cuddling and smudging her lipstick.
He added: ‘When he arrived at the Metro Centre he was confronted by Guardians of the North.
‘He said he only arrived to go shopping. In the usual way the police were called and the defendant’s mobile phone was seized.’
Mr Devlin said an examination of the phone revealed Smith had also been in contract with another profile, purporting to belong to a 13-year-old girl, but which was also set up by the Guardians.
Smith, of Onthank, Kilmarnock, admitted attempting to meet a girl under 16 years of age following grooming and attempting to cause or incite a girl aged 13 to 15 to engage in sexual activity.
Judge Deborah Sherwin told Smith: ‘You were attempting to make contact with who you thought were two teenage girls, one 13 and one 14.
‘One you agreed to meet up with at the Metro Centre in Gateshead and we’re satisfied that was for the purpose of some kind of sexual activity.
‘The other girl, you encouraged her to send you pictures and things like that.
‘What was not known to you at the time was neither of these girls existed in reality.
‘You must understand this sort of behaviour is not acceptable.’ Judge Sherwin told Smith she was ‘only just’ persuaded not to send him to prison and sentenced him to a three year community order.
Smith was also ordered to sign the sex offenders register and abide by a sexual prevention order for seven years