Thomas O’Halloran, who is originally from Co Kildare, was snared in the sting operation mounted by the ‘Fleetwood Enforcers UK’ in July.
The group describe themselves as a voluntary sexual offenders hunting group.
He had thought he was in contact with a 12-year-old girl and two 14-year-olds when he messaged them on WhatsApp.
He told the youngest decoy he felt "horny" but he was actually being trapped by the group.
The group creates decoy profiles with an image of young girls - which are actually edited photographs of a female group member - which they send if requested.
From July 3, O'Halloran had engaged in sexual communication with a decoy posing as a 14-year-old girl.
The father-of-three referred to sexual activities and to himself having sex with another 14-year-old girl.
He also sent a picture of a clothed 14-year-old girl, saying he had had sex with her, and he discussed "upskirting".
Two days later he communicated with another decoy posing as a 14-year-old girl and said she was "gorgeous" and said he wanted to hug her.
From July 8, he engaged in sexual communication with a decoy claiming to be 12-years-old, saying she was gorgeous, beautiful and attractive and referred to her as "sexy".
O’Halloran warned her not to disclose the communication to anyone, while saying he felt "horny" and discussed what he wanted to do with her.
He also sent her a video of a woman performing a sex act on a man which he told her to delete.
All communication ended on July 14 and the group created a file of evidence.
On July 15 they conducted the "sting" operation where members of the group confronted the pensioner at his home.
In a video recording of the encounter that was posted on Facebook Live, one of his accusers is heard saying: “Everything that I got, you admit everything,”...“yeah,” he replies, “you might as well shut the book. I’m not denying anything.”
“But you’re obviously sexually attracted to children, that's obvious,” one of the group adds, and when he shakes his head and says “oh no, no", she adds: “why do you pick 12 year olds? She’s a pre-teen.”
His accuser adds: “When they tell you how old they are and you say about school all the way"...he says, “I deleted some of them,” to which she replies: “But after you talk sexually to them.”
Later in the video O’Halloran is seen calmly drinking a cup of tea as he awaits for the police to arrive.
When he is told: “You just don’t seem shocked to see us,” he replies: "You get caught, you get caught, that’s it, I can’t do anything about it.”
When asked: “Why kids?” He says, “I know it’s wrong.”
Asked again, “What do you find attractive about kids?", he denies that he is, before the police arrive.
O’Halloran later pleaded guilty to three offences involving attempted sexual communication with the first 14-year-old and the 12-year-old to obtain sexual gratification and attempting to cause the youngest girl to look at an image of sexual activity.
Jailing O'Halloran for 12 months at Liverpool Crown Court on Monday, November 29, the judge, Recorder Ian Unsworth, QC, said that he had pleaded guilty to three serious sexual matters.
He said the contents of his conversations with the ‘girls’ “were not only lewd but wholly inappropriate and could properly be described as grooming.”
Recorder Unsworth pointed out that O’Halloran had not stopped his behaviour himself, it had been terminated when he was confronted by the paedophile group.
And he said that the case “was clearly aggravated by your express instruction to someone you believed to be a very young girl to delete that recording.”
Stella Hayden, defending, said that O’Halloran only has one previous offence which involved indecent exposure for which he was fined in 1985.
She said he had moved to England from Kildare in Ireland in the 1960s and had worked as a hospital porter before marrying and moving to St Helens. He worked for a furniture company and driving for a haulage firm before he had retired through ill health 20 years ago.
Miss Hayden said that he has serious ongoing health difficulties. These include having had heart surgery, liver problems, a diagnosis of diabetes and his gall bladder ruptured causing him to end up in intensive care with sepsis.
He is still waiting to have his gall bladder removed but it has been postponed three times because of Covid.
He has three adult children and until the offences came to light, he was in almost daily contact with them but they are now estranged from him as is his family in Ireland.
“I appreciate as does he it is his own actions that have led to the situation….but the impact he feels keenly.”
He has lived alone in his council accommodation for the past 20 years but if jailed he would lose his home. Miss Hayden said the whole experience of coming to court and his personal situation has been a “salutary” lesson. She pointed out that there was no actual victim.
The judge ordered O’Halloran to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for ten years and imposed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for the same length of time.