Paedophile vigilantes caught a Kempston dad red-handed for ‘grooming’ a 13-year-old girl and sending indecent images of himself.
Steven Dass, 43, engaged in an explicit conversation with what he thought was a young teenager - but in fact was members of a group called Stand Together for Children.
Luton crown court heard this week that Dass, himself a father, thought he was speaking to a girl in Wales on the app ‘Nearby’ before setting up a WhatsApp link with her.
In the conversations between 29 to 30 October last year, the ‘girl’ made it clear she was 13.
“He had sexualised talk with her and sent her indecent images of himself and a pornographic video,” said prosecutor Sukwinder Dhadda.
Vigilantes from Stand Together for Children went to Dass’ home, but he would not see them.
The police were called and a dossier on Dass’ activities was presented to them by the group.
When Dass’ phone was examined by the police, they discovered that he had been chatting to another 13 year old girl in Northamptonshire between August and September last year.
In WhatsApp conversations he said he was ‘bored and randy’ and ‘buzzing in his boxer shorts’. He had also sent her indecent pictures of himself.
Dass, of Molly Moore Avenue, appeared for sentence from Peterborough jail having pleaded guilty to two charges of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.
Defending, Efstathios Divaris said Dass had been in custody since 6 November, the equivalent of an 8 month sentence.
He said: “The offences were out of character. He had split from his partner and had been drinking. He was feeling emotional and lonely.”
Judge Richard Foster told him: “You must be ashamed of your behaviour. The Internet is a great source of information and an asset to modern life, but has great capacity to be misused and that is what you did on these occasions.
“It is shameful that you, as a 43 year old man and a father yourself, engaged in these conversation with girls you believed to be 13 and, even worse, sent them images of yourself.”
But the judge said he had served the equivalent of an eight month sentence and would not receive treatment in the community if he remained in custody. The maximum sentence he could have received was only two years if he had actually met the girls.
The judge passed a nine month sentence suspended for two years.
Dass must take part in a two year Horizon Programme involving 29 group sessions, as well as individual sessions. He must also carry out 10 days of a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement, register as a Sex Offender and abide by the terms of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 10 years.