A man was snared by paedophile hunters when he turned up at an Asda car park to meet a 14-year-old from a dating website
Sean Kirsopp thought he was chatting to a child called "Jay" over the social media site Grindr in November last year and arranged to get together after
just one or two days.
Newcastle Crown Court heard during the conversations, the 22-year-old suggested that sexual activity would take place, despite "Jay" clearly claiming to be 14.
When Kirsopp arrived at Asda in Felling, Gateshead, he was confronted by Guardians of the North, an online organisation that trawls the internet exposing people looking for sexual activity with children.
When police arrived, Kirsopp confessed he had been chatting with someone underage but claimed he "wasn't going to do anything" and that the sex chat had just been "pure fantasy".
Kirsopp, of Halison Place, Gateshead, admitted attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.
Judge Tim Gittins said Kirsopp is "young, naive and immature" with a background of having learning difficulties and being bullied.
The judge sentenced Kirsopp to a community order for three years with sex offender treatment programme requirements.
Kirsopp must sign the sex offenders register and abide by a sexual harm prevention order for seven years.
But the judge warned him: "You need to appreciate, you have come within a hair's breadth of an immediate custodial sentence.
"You were very quickly told the person you were engaging in conversation was 14 years of age.
"Despite an apparent initial shock on your behalf, you nontheless continued to engage in chat that you quickly turned into sexual discussions.
"That is fine between consenting adults but, obviously, seriously unlawful between an adult and a child under 16."
The judge added: "You engaged in that conversation and had gone to meet that child.
"Had something have happened, obviously the position would have been significantly worse."
Judge Gittins said intervention was the key to prevention of further offending in Kirsopp's case.
Joe Hedworth, defending, said Kirsopp was confronted while standing at a bus stop near the car park where the meeting was arranged because he had changed his mind about going.
Mr Hedworth said: "He was at the bus stop with the intention of going home."
The court heard Kirsopp has good employment and handed in references from relatives and friends about his ordinarily positive character.
Mr Hedworth added: "He accepts full responsibility and is greatly ashamed about his actions.
"He is acutely aware of the shame he has brought upon himself and members of his immediate family."
Mr Hedworth said Kersopp is an "immature and extremely vulnerable" young man who was petrified of being in court for the first time and has learned a salutary lesson.