VIGILANTE paedophile hunters snared a pervert after posing as a 13-year-old girl.
Ian Skittlethorpe used WhatsApp messages to urge a girl – who was actually a fake profile set up by vigilante group Dark Justice – to send naked photos.
But after he said he had access to two children, the secret group tipped off police and he was arrested.
Shamed Skittlethorpe, 58, of Howe Road, Gosport, avoided jail after his perverted crimes were detailed at Portsmouth Crown Court.
In messages he sent, Skittlethorpe boasts about travelling to abuse children across the globe. In court these were described as ‘fantasies’.
Tom Wright, prosecuting, said the vigilante group, which was named in court, used fake accounts to catch people.
He expressed to her his wish to have sex with her, he talks about how it was a long time he had taken the virginity of a 13-year-old girlProsecutor Tom Wright
Mr Wright said: ‘False accounts have been set up which give all the appearance of being the social media of young girls between the ages of 11 and 15. There was a profile set up, a young girl called Amy, featuring photographs.
‘In all the contact she was at pains to say she was 13 and living alone in Newcastle.
‘Ian Skittlethorpe was lured into a very sexualised contact with her over a period of days.
‘In very short terms, he was discussing with Amy very sexual matters.
‘He expressed to her his wish to have sex with her, he talks about how it was a long time he had taken the virginity of a 13-year-old girl.
‘He talked about having consensual intercourse with other young people.’
The messages also show Skittlethorpe talking about sex with a dog.
Skittlethorpe asked for a photo of ‘Amy’ undressed and asked her to take her top off.
Mr Wright added: ‘It seems the evidence that (the vigilante) was getting might have been more extensive but on August 12 Mr Skittlethorpe in the course of conversation indicated (he would have access to two young girls).’
Skittlethorpe was able to delete WhatsApp on his phone but police found 13 indecent images. He admitted 10 counts of possessing indecent images, one count of possession of extreme pornography and one of distributing one indecent image.
The indecent images included categories C, B and A, the worst kind.
Skittlethorpe admitted two counts of attempting to cause a child to engage in sexual activity.
Recorder Anne Arnold said the case was ‘troubling’ and handed him an 80-week prison term suspended for two years.
He must sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years and a sexual harm prevention order means he must not contact children or for 10 years use internet devices without making them available to police.
He must complete a sex offenders’ group programme and 25 days of rehabilitation.
Daniel Reilly, mitigating, said Skittlethorpe had got rid of all internet devices.
He added: ‘He speaks of the shame he feels and deep regret at the way he has behaved.’
Asked to comment about vigilante action, a Hampshire police spokesman said: ‘We understand the desire to protect children, but any member of the public who has information about child sexual abuse, online or otherwise, should get in contact with the police so we can investigate and bring people to justice.’