A married granddad who sought out girls on the internet was caught when he unwittingly messaged three paedophile hunter decoys instead.
Peter Hargrave was undeterred when told by three contacts, posing as children, they were aged 12, 13 and 14 years – and embarked on sexualised conversations.
He told the person he thought was aged 13 their contact was “secret, but naughty.”
When she asked if it would cause a problem to meet up, he replied: “Only if your family know, baby.”
The defendant asked the ‘girls’ for their vital statistics, saying he wanted to buy them underwear in the event of meeting up.
Hargrave, 62, who claimed to be in his 40’s during online chats, asked for photos of them in their pyjamas and sent images of himself in boxer shorts.
Gregor Purcell, prosecuting, told Leicester Crown Court that Hargraves asked the person he thought was a 12-year-old about her breasts and boyfriends.
He told her to “try sex,” saying she would “enjoy it” and offered to be her boyfriend.
Mr Purcell said: “She asked if she was too young and he replied ‘not if your parents don’t know.’ “
The third decoy, purporting to be a 14-year-old, was asked to send him for “full body” photographs.
He offered to take a shower with her and asked to meet her at lunchtime.
The prosecutor said that paedophile hunters conducted an “organised confrontation” resulting in his arrest.
Mr Purcell added: “The defendant said, when questioned, whilst he took gratification from what he was doing, he was trying to educate them about what might be about to come.
“He said he was offering educational support for teenage girls.”
The defendant’s then matrimonial home in Newfoundpool, Leicester, was searched.
His internet devices were inspected and there was no evidence of any indecent images of children, said the prosecutor.
The court heard the defendant had no previous convictions.
Hargrave, who ended up homeless afterwards and shunned by his family, was said to have “lost everything” because of his offending.
He pleaded guilty at the city’s magistrates court, in August, to three counts of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child – one charge for each decoy account – over several days in October and November, 2018.
He was committed to the crown court for sentence.
Sentencing, Recorder Stuart Sprawson said: “At the end of October and early part of November in 2018 you attempted to contact children who turned out to be three adult decoys.
“You chose to make friends with them and in each case you pursued a conversation which had only one purpose and that was for your own personal gratification.
“You used highly sexualised language to engage in long conversations, making sexual remarks and offered to meet them and have relationships with them – it was highly inappropriate.
“You said you were 40 when the reality is you’re 62.
“You were remorseful in your interview.
“But you said you did it for educational purposes – it’s nonsense.”
The recorder said: “You’re delusional about what you were trying to achieve and you sought to minimise your involvement by cloaking it in that explanation.”
Recorder Sprawson said Hargrave required one-to-one in-put from the probation service to address his “appalling behaviour.”
Hargrave was given a 10 month jail sentence, suspended for two years, with 100 hours of unpaid work and a 25 day rehabilitation activity requirement.
He was placed on a 10 year sexual harm prevention order with “stringent restrictions” and will have to enlist on a sex offender register for the same period.