A Doncaster man was snared by an online paedophile hunter, a court heard.
Vigilante Griff Roberts has exposed 16 perverts in northern England by posing as a young girl.
He set up a fake profile on the Badoo website calling himself ‘Little Laura,’ using an attractive picture of an actress.
Posing as a 14-year-old schoolgirl he indulged in sexy talk and eventually arranged to meet the punters in a park.
When the men turned up for a ‘date,’ Roberts confronted them with a camcorder and filmed and quizzed them before handing the evidence to the police.
Sheffield Crown Court heard 16 men from across the north have been charged following Roberts’ ploy.
Married health and safety manager Stephen Crookes, aged 65, from near Doncaster town centre was one of the men caught in the sting.
Prosecutor Thomas Storey said the online vigilante posted the fake profile and uploaded a photo of an actress he got from the internet.
Crookes contacted the site in May 2014 and ‘Little Laura’, although claiming to be older at first, soon made it clear she was 14.
In sexually explicit online chats over the next few days, Crookes offered to send the girl indecent pictures of himself.
He asked her indecent questions and said they could make ‘passionate love’ in his car.
Crookes then sent her an indecent picture and when she said she was not looking forward to school he suggested they meet.
He asked ‘Little Laura’ to wear a dress with no underwear.
“He said he wanted to teach her things about sex but they would have to be careful because of her age,” said Mr Storey.
Crookes arranged a meeting in Shibden Park, Halifax, in June 2014 – but when he turned up for the ‘date’ he was confronted by Roberts armed with a camcorder.
Over the next 20 minutes, Roberts followed Crookes and bombarded him with questions about what he was doing.
Crookes said he was ‘just chilling out’ before saying he had gone to warn the girl about meeting people she had been chatting to online.
Eventually he said he had two years before retirement and pleaded with Roberts not to go to the police or he would lose his job and pension.
But the vigilante contacted police and Crookes was arrested two days later. He told officers he had used the networking site ‘as a bit of light relief from a stressful job.’
Mr Storey said: “He told police he thought Little Laura was older because of the way she spoke. He said his marriage had not been brilliant over the last few years and it was nice to speak to somebody with a sympathetic ear.
“He said he had never done anything like it before and had no intention of having a sexual relationship with an under-age girl.”
Crookes, of Highfield Road, near Doncaster town centre admitted attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.
Michael Caine-Soothill, for Crookes, said he was ‘clearly very shaken’ by the confrontation in the park.
“It was tantamount to a 20-minute confession,” he said.
He was of previous good behaviour.
“It was completely out of character for him. His job left him socially isolated although his wife, fortunately for him, is standing by him.”
Judge Sarah Wright told Crookes: “It became clear when you contacted that ‘girl’ and began conversing with her she was saying she was 14. Thereafter you asked sexual questions of that person whom you believed was a young girl.
“There were repeated references to her age and you travelled to Halifax to meet her for the purpose of sexual activity. However you were confronted by a man armed with a camcorder who filmed your conversation.”
She said she would not jail Crookes to help his rehabilitation and prevent any re-occurence of his ‘appalling’ behaviour.
Crookes was given a three-year community order with supervision and told to complete a sex offenders’ programme. He was also issued with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.