A 60-year-old man was tricked into meeting a non-existent schoolgirl for sex in a car park.
Douglas Thorpe, of St John Bank in South Chailey was jailed for three years and four months at Bolton Crown Court on Thursday October 5.
The court heard Thorpe drove 250 miles to meet “Kim”, a “14-year-old girl” at Tesco in Hindley, before being apprehended by Darren Minto, who runs paedophile hunting website ‘Creep Catchers’.
Judge Timothy Stead heard Thorpe had sent explicit messages and pictures to “Kim” before grooming her and arranging to meet for sex.
Thorpe initially denied the charges but later admitted his intentions, the court heard.
Prosecution barrister Justin Hayhoe said the two had begun talking on the social media site Scout. During that time Darren Minto posed as Kim from Wigan, who he said was 14 years old. Thorpe’s response was ‘I could get into trouble for chatting to you lol, I’m older than you’. “He then continued grooming what he believed to be a 14-year-old girl. He told her he loved her.”
Mr Hayhoe read messages from Thorpe to his potential victim, which became more explicit. The pair arranged to meet. Thorpe told “Kim” that he had bought her an iPhone 5 for her 14th birthday. The phone was found in his car following his arrest.
Defending Thorpe, Janet Ironfield said: “At the time of his offending he was approaching a crisis in his personal life or mental health. He recognises a need for professional help of varying kinds.”