Published: 14:30, 07 February 2018
A pervert who believed he was meeting a young girl for sex when he was lured into a sting by a paedophile vigilante group has been jailed for two years.
Paul Moore sent an intimate photo of himself and exchanged lurid messages thinking he was in contact with a 12-year-old schoolgirl calling herself Gemma, having found her on dating app Qeep.
Maidstone Crown Court was told the 34-year-old dock worker was fully aware of the girl’s purported age when he asked her if she wanted to have sex with him.
He referred to her as his girlfriend and said he would book a hotel room for them.
But after arranging to meet at Chatham Railway Station on November 3, he was confronted by members of a group called Protecting Kids Online UK.
A video of the moment he learned of Gemma’s true identity – a woman in the group – was posted on social media and viewed more than 40,000 times.
Moore, of Queensway, Sheerness, admitted meeting a child following grooming.
He was remanded in custody in December while a pre-sentence report was prepared.
Prosecutor Ian Foinette said the exchange of sexual messages began on October 24 last year.
Moore, who separated from his wife shortly after the birth of their son two years ago, arranged to meet Gemma when she told him she would be 13 on October 30.
He asked her if she would be "ready for sex" and told her he would use a condom so she would not get pregnant.
He told her to confirm she had deleted the picture of his private parts he sent in case her mother saw it.
But Moore failed to show up after arrangements were then made to meet.
It was at the second planned meeting at the railway station that Moore, who unloads cargo at Sheerness Docks, walked into the trap.
He has since been in custody for his own protection.
Moore’s name will appear on the sex offenders’ register and he is barred from working with children and vulnerable adults.
A woman called Bailey Hunter acted as the teenager communicating with Moore.
Speaking after his sentencing on Friday, she said she was pleased he had been jailed and hoped it would put people off attempting similar.
"It's fantastic, a brilliant result and a great message for others," said Ms Hunter, of Protecting Kids Online UK.
"Paul never got bail, he was remanded instantly and remained in custody until he was sentenced.
"This alone should act as a deterrent for people."
She added: "I'm thankful to Kent Police for their support and the legal system, because without them this wouldn’t have been able to go through.
"As for Paul, I hope to God he will sort himself out and never gets into anything like this again."
Ms Hunter said her message to parents is to make sure they are on top of what their children are doing at all times and to contact police as soon as they find out they are in contact with someone they do not know.
"Constantly check what your children are looking at," she said. "Whether it's on their phones, PlayStations, Xboxes or social media.
"You just don't know who your children are talking to. It really could be anyone."
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