Paedo jailed for sending messages while posing as teen girl
A paedophile has been jailed for 12 months after sending explicit messages to vigilantes posing as a 13-year-old girl.
Paul Platten, 38, sent a string of messages and naked pictures of himself after contacting a fake profile on social media.
He was confronted at his home in Wincanton, Somerset, by two members of the vigilante group after arranging to meet the girl.
Police were called and Platten was arrested. He later admitted four charges in connection with the messages.
Platten, who has no previous convictions, was jailed for 12 months at Taunton Crown Court and ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years.
Judge James Patrick told him: "I bear in mind, of course, that a 13-year-old child was not at the other end of the chat that you were having.
"However, you thought you were talking over social media with a 13-year-old girl.
"You engaged in conversation for a period of a couple of months and during that time you gave sufficient detail of your own identity to lead to you being detained.
"You sent to someone you thought was a 13-year-old girl a number of photographs of you naked.
"In my judgment these offences are so serious that they warrant an immediate custodial sentence."
Prosecuting, Caroline Bolt said members of a vigilante group set up a profile on social media purporting to be a 13-year-old girl called Sarah Rose.
On March 9 Platten contacted the profile and initially engaged in innocent conversation, but sent his mobile phone number the following day.
"The conversation continued until June 11," Ms Bolt said. "It was made very clear that Sarah was 13.
"He sent five naked photographs of himself, two of which included his face.
"As the communication progressed there was clear grooming of the supposed 13-year-old."
Ms Bolt said Platten arranged to meet the girl in London, where he believed she lived, but called it off.
A member of the vigilante group then used details Platten had given in messages to establish where he lived.
"He and another member of the group went to Wincanton on June 19 and confronted the defendant and called the police," Ms Bolt added.
"He made no comment in interview."
Platten admitted three charges of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, on March 17, 19 and 20.
He also pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to engage in sexual communications with a child.
Representing Platten, Rebecca Bradberry said: "He has lost his home, he has lost his job.
"Given the confrontation that has taken place and that this has been plastered on social media, he is not able to go back to Wincanton and his job."
Platten was also made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order, which will last for 10 years.