A man from Wrexham caught in a “sting” by internet paedophile hunters has been jailed for two years after he admitted trying to meet a child following sexual grooming.
Michael Roberts, 31, of Coed Aben, Caia Park, had been unaware someone from “Internet Interceptors” was posing online as a girl of 14
Mold Crown Court was told the group apprehended him at night near a school at Wrexham.
A previous hearing had been the operation was broadcast live on the internet.
Barrister Michael Whitty, prosecuting, said Roberts had a long-term partner but he had conversations on Facebook Messenger which became sexual in nature with someone he thought was the child.
He requested images of her and sent a graphic picture himself.
Mr Whitty said they discussed meeting for sex in woods and he had a contraceptive when arrested in December.
“He said ‘I wasn’t going to do anything with her’ but added ‘I feel sick about what I have done’,” Mr Whitty said.
He had changed his mind about having sex while on the way to meet who he thought was a girl.
Barrister John Hedgecoe, defending, said: ”He’s extremely worried about his position and extremely ashamed of what he has done.”
The lawyer said there was now no connection with his wife and Roberts would have to make a fresh start.
Judge Niclas Parry told Roberts: ”The communication between you and the individual who you believed to be a child of 14 makes one thing absolutely clear.
“Had you an opportunity to do so and had that individual been a child, you would have taken her to a private location and had sexual activity with her.”
He said Roberts sought to take advantage of being older and groomed the supposed child with flattery.
“There was no child. There was no harm,” the judge said, but he added: ”This was a very serious matter.”
Roberts must register as a sex offender for 10 years and a sexual harm prevention order was made for a decade.
Det Insp Mark Hughes at Wrexham CID said after the sentencing hearing: “I hope his sentence demonstrates our commitment to eradicate all forms of online child abuse.
“Roberts believed he was engaged in an online conversation with a young girl and arranged to meet her to engage in sexual activity but fortunately his intentions were passed onto North Wales Police and he was arrested and brought to justice.
“Those who engage in this type of activity should be aware their online activities will be ‘picked up’ by the authorities and they will be brought to justice.
“I hope his incarceration will serve as a warning to others and provides our communities with reassurance that North Wales Police will robustly pursue all such offenders.”