A ‘NAIVE’ man who was caught by a vigilante trying to meet an underage girl for sex has been spared jail.
Richard Adams, 30, travelled to Gosport believing he was going to have sex with a young girl under 16.
But instead, he was confronted by a self-styled ‘paedophile hunter’.
The man had duped Adams into the meeting by pretending to be the girl on an adult dating website.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard how Adams had been hunting for sex with a woman in her 20s when he stumbled across a profile run by the man, who sent photos of a young woman – who was in her 20s – and said he was under the age of 16.
After an hour-long conversation, a confused Adams agreed to meet but was then blackmailed by the man, who demanded he paid two instalments of £250.
Angry, Adams contacted the police about the blackmail – who then arrested and charged him with attempting to arrange a meeting with an underage girl for sex.
Sentencing Adams, of Old School Court, Fareham, Judge Roger Hetherington said: ‘You effectively buried your head in the sand and decided to go ahead anyway probably in a somewhat confused state of mind.
‘When you arrived at the chosen address you were, no doubt to your horror, greeted by the man, a self-appointed paedophile hunter.’
Adams pleaded guilty to the offence after his arrest.
Defending, Jason Halsey urged the judge to impose a suspended sentence and not to send his client to the ‘wolf pit’ in prison.
‘He is not a predatory paedophile,’ said Mr Halsey.
‘He is naive and immature.
‘He does not go out looking for young girls.
‘But he put himself in a position where his immaturity led him astray.’
The judge was convinced and said: ‘I have no reason to think that you will commit a further offence.’
Ex-hotel worker Adams, of previous good character and who had no convictions, was jailed for 12 months, suspended for two years.
He is required to undertake 30 days of rehabilitation and has signed the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.