In fact Christopher Shead had been communicating with online decoys and he was detained outside the Savoy cinema, in Nottingham, by the group of ‘paedophile hunters’ who set up the fake profile, on November 2, 2019.
Prosecutor Stephen Kemp said police searched Shead’s former home in Ilkeston and found evidence on his devices that he had been communicating with what he thought were five girls.
Nottingham Crown Court heard he sent sexual imagery to some of them, including a picture of his genitals.
Digby Johnson, mitigating, said Shead, who had no previous convictions, had been affected by the investigation and court process.
"Happily there have been no further transgressions,” he said. “The fact that it is an attempt brings us some solace.”
Shead, 35, now of Lewis Close, Nottingham, pleaded guilty to ten separate offences.
Judge Michael Auty QC said Shead’s meeting at the cinema was livestreamed by the group and this was ‘not something the court condones because of the risks involved.’
On Thursday, he told the defendant: “You answered ‘no comment’ to every question the police asked you.
“You had not confined yourself to one girl. You thought you were communicating with no fewer than five girls under the age of 16, the youngest being only 11.
“The conversations turned to sexualised matters very soon. These matters are particularly serious because you didn’t know they weren't real.
“Children are our most previous asset. They are vulnerable. People like you who have paedophilic tendencies are a tremendous risk to young people
“I can't imagine that in attempting to meet this girl with a pregnancy-testing kit you had nothing more in mind than watching a film.”
He noted that Shead was ‘going through a particularly bad time’ when then offences were committed, and took into account ‘that there were no real children - this was adults masquerading as children.’
He sentenced Shead to a total of three years in prison, placed him on the Sex Offenders Register for life and imposed a sexual harm prevention order.