South Shields man sent indecent images to decoy underage girl
A man who engaged in online sex chat with who he thought was an underage girl was snared by paedophile hunters.
Liam Bray was using an online adult dating site when he started talking to the fake profile of a 14-year-old girl over a week-long period.
Unbeknown to him, the 26-year-old was in conversation with the undercover group Guardians of the North, who had set up the "decoy" profile to catch adults looking to engage with children.
Newcastle Crown Court heard that Bray was told more than once that the profile he was talking to was 14-years-old, but continued to engage in sexual communication.
Prosecutor Liam O'Brien said that sexual messages were exchanged between July 25 to August 7, 2019, including the defendant sending indecent images of himself.
"The victim informed the defendant on numerous occasions that she was just 14 years of age," Mr O'Brien said.
"That didn't stop the defendant from moving their conversations to sexual matters."
The court heard that Bray sent a series of extreme messages of a sexual nature to the profile, which included asking the girl to send videos of herself engaging in sexual activity.
It was also heard that Bray, of Dean Road, South Shields, has moved away from his parents to minimise any threat towards them as a result of the case.
He admitted to attempting to engage in sexual communications with a child and attempting to incite a child into sexual activity.
Jude Timothy Gittins sentenced him to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years alongside 30 sessions of a sexual offending behavioural programme for the next two years.
Bray must complete a rehabilitation requirement of 40 days and an electronically monitored curfew between the hours of 7am-8pm for four months.
He has to sign the sex offenders register and abide by a sexual harm prevention order for ten years.
Judge Gittins told him: "You were using an adult dating website to get some sexual gratification.
"For one week at least you engaged with a profile that you were very swiftly told you were engaging with a 14-year-old girl.
"Despite being repeatedly told that you continued to engage with that profile.
"No doubt you were getting deviant sexual gratification from what you were doing."
The judge added: "Many would say you would richly deserve an immediate custodial threshold but I have to balance that requirement for punishment with the need to protect young children going forward.
"If you abide by these conditions then all will be well and you will be well on your return to a law-abiding citizen.
"If you breach any of these conditions you will return to this court."
Vic Laffey, mitigating, told the court that the probation service were satisfied that Bray had showed potential in being able to rehabilitate and learn from his offending.
Mr Laffey said that Bray has become increasingly isolated in what effectively is a bedsit, as he has moved out of his family home as a result of his offending.
Mr Laffey added: "I don't wish to play down the level of seriousness of the conversations, but it was very short-lived indeed, some 14 or 15 months ago."