Hebburn family man caught in sex chat with decoy 14-year-old girls
A family man who was snared after having sex chat with who he thought were two 14-year-old girls has kept his freedom.
Andrew Maund began speaking to the profiles in June 2020 via online social chat sites, under the fake name "Steven."
Newcastle Crown Court heard that the 37-year-old continued the conversations even after being informed of their young ages.
Prosecutor Emma Dowling said: "The defendant was effectively engaged in communication with two decoys who both volunteered for what was then the Guardians of the North group.
"As part of their role as volunteers they had set up accounts on social media sites and both decoys set up sites purporting to be 18.
"On two separate days the defendant, using a profile of Steven, contacted both profiles."
The court heard that Maund spoke to the first decoy on the site MeetMe, where he said he was looking for friends.
The conversation escalated however, which included him quizzing her on what she was wearing and asking for photographs.
Ms Dowling added: "Two days later on the 26th of June, he is in contact with another profile ran by a different volunteer.
"She had set up a profile on Badoo. She said she was 18 on her profile.
"He contacted her, again in the name of Steven. He asked where she was from.
"She told him she was 14. He said he had no issue with that and went on to engage in sexual communications with her.
"The communication then progressed. He began to discuss what he would like to do with her."
The court heard he requested a photograph, which she refused, and he then sent her a picture of his genitals.
Maund, of St Rollox Street in Hebburn, who has no previous convictions, was later arrested and a subsequent analysis of his mobile phone found a small number of category C images of children.
He later admitted two counts of sexual communication with a child and one count of attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity.
He also pleaded guilty to making class C images of children.
Robin Turton, mitigating, told the court that Maund was remorseful and "ashamed" of his actions, and that he had lost his temporary job working for Amazon.
Mr Turton said: "He has never been in trouble before. He is a hard working man with a wife.
"He has been providing for his family for a long time.
"These offences date back two years to 2020. I respectfully submit the court can impose a suspended sentence with conditions."
Mr Recorder Bryan Cox KC agreed with Mr Turton and said he was willing to suspend the sentence to allow Maund to address the roots of his offending.
The judge told him: "These were serious matters involving a course of conduct.
"They do, in my judgement, warrant a custodial sentence that I'm going to suspend.
"I accept that you are remorseful and ashamed for what you have done and this has had an impact on your employment."
The judge sentenced him to 21 months behind bars, suspended for two years, along with 55 days of rehabilitation activity days and sex offender programme requirements.
Maund must sign the sex offenders register and be subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for ten years.