A convicted sex offender was caught by paedophile hunters when he turned up to meet a 14-year-old child he had been grooming online.
Colin Mason believed he had been speaking to a virgin schoolboy called Ryan over dating app Grindr.
But to his surprise he’d been duped by Guardians of the North, an organisation which sets up fake social media profiles to snare adults looking for underage sex.
Newcastle Crown court heard Mason engaged in explicit sexual chat with who he thought was the young boy and sent him an illicit photograph.
Mason, who has previously served a three-and-a-half year prison sentence for taking and distributing indecent images of children and admitted having ‘sexual relations’ with a 14-year-old featured in one of those photographs.
He became angry and panicked when he arrived to meet ‘Ryan’ but was confronted by the group.
Newcastle Crown Court heard police who arrived at the scene of the snare in Sunderland in September seized Mason’s phone and a memory stick was recovered from his house.
When the devices were examined, a hoard of 361 indecent pictures and movies of children, many in the most serious category of their type, were found.
Mason, of Chester Terrace North, Sunderland, admitted attempting to meet a child after sexual grooming and three offences of possessing indecent photographs.
Judge Sarah Mallett sentenced him to two years and nine months behind bars with lifelong sex offender registration and sexual harm prevention order.
The judge told him: ‘A significant aggravating feature in relation to each of the offences is your previous convictions.
However, you did go to the meeting so you took all possible steps you could take to commit the offence.’
The court heard Mason had not attended the first two meetings with ‘Ryan’ but turned up the third time.