The defendant revealed he was 34 years old, and shortly afterwards ‘Sophie’ said she was 12.
On February 20, Mason messaged ‘Sophie’ that he was “looking for fun, but he was not looking for naughty fun,” said Ms Crowther.
Not long after this, he asked whether she “wanted to be naughty.”
Cardiff Crown Court heard how he sent a sexually explicit picture to ‘Sophie’, and asked her if she would like to see his penis and if she would like to copy the sex act in the picture.
He then asked if ‘Sophie’ would perform other sex acts, and sent photographs and instructions on how she would do it.
On February 27, Mason commented on how ‘Sophie’ had not sent any pictures of herself, and when she said she wouldn’t, he accused her of being an undercover officer.
After that, said Ms Crowther, “messages were sent but only in greeting.”
Mason was arrested on May 28, and the defendant admitted sending the photographs and that the conversation was sexual in nature.
Representing the defendant, Matthew Roberts said Mason needed help and guidance as part of his punishment.
“This is a defendant the probation service believe quite strongly would benefit from their services,” he said in mitigation.
“He is absolutely not a lost cause.
“These types of offenders are vulnerable and they do need help and guidance as well as punishment.”
Mr Roberts added Mason had no offending history and “completely clean character.”
Concluding, Judge Keith Thomas said: “Such offences clearly are very serious, but in this case the actual harm was limited as the person at risk of being in harm was a police officer posing as a child.
“These are serious offences. They were aggravated and they occurred not once, but a series of times.
“I’m satisfied there is a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.”
He noted that Mason had pleaded guilty to attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activities, attempting sexual communications with a child, and attempting to cause a child under 13 to watch a sexual act at the earliest opportunity.
Judge Thomas handed Mason 16 months in prison, suspended for two years.
He was ordered to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, and to participate in the Horizon Programme.
He was also ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years and was made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for the same period of time.
Mason must also pay a £149 surcharge.