John Rudd, 57, from Appleton Road, Stockton, Teesside, contacted a fake profile set up by the group Dark Justice and arranged a meeting even after being told the “girl” was under-age.
When Rudd travelled to Newcastle for the illegal rendezvous, he was shocked to find two men in their 20s armed with a video camera waiting for him on the Millennium Bridge
She told him: “You were attentive, flattering, kind and thoughtful and, meanwhile, you turned the conversation, when you could, to sexual matters.
“I accept no child was actually harmed by what you did, but your behaviour was persistent and you believed yourself to be engaging in contact with a girl of 14.”
Paul Caulfield, defending, said Rudd was of previous good character but his life was now in tatters.
Mr Caulfield said his client had suffered greatly as a consequence of the national publicity the case had gathered, and he has lost his job and had to move house.
Attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.
Judge Moreland said Rudd’s messaging was “a textbook example of sexual grooming”.
He admitted the offence and was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court, just yards from where Dark Justice’s sting operation took place in November.
Judge Penny Moreland jailed him for a year and placed him on the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years.
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