Paedophile hunters confronted a Bushey man in his own home after he had sexual chats with what he thought was a 14-year-old girl.
The vigilantes, called Fleetwood Enforcers UK, spent 21 minutes live-streaming their confrontation with Robert Conway, 54, before the police arrived.
Conway believed he was having crude internet conversations with a girl called Ella, who was in fact an adult hunter.
When checks were made, it was discovered he had previously been talking to another decoy, who had posed as a 13-year-old called Sarah.
Conway appeared for sentence at St Albans Crown Court today (February 13) having pleaded guilty to two charges of attempting to engage a child in sexual communication.
Prosecutor Daniel Siong said Conway spoke to the decoy over the internet for a six-month period until the hunters went to his home on May 12 last year. He had told her he was aged 35 while she made it clear she was 14.
He sent her a selfie of himself. She sent him a photo herself, but refused to send him a topless picture.
Mr Siong said when he was arrested Conway said: “I know what I have been arrested for – saying crude comments to under 18s. I admit it.”
Conway told the police he got very drunk in evening, took cocaine and would talk to anyone on the internet.
It was then discovered that between June and October 2022, he had been talking to the 13-year-old decoy. Again he claimed to be 35. He exchanged selfies and complimented the “girl” about her body.
Defending, Brian Shaw said Conway was of previous good character. He said he had given a full and frank admission to the police. He said he made no attempt to disguise his name or identity, did not send sexual images of himself and no indecent images were found on his computer or phones.
He said he had sought help for his drink and drug problem and there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.
Judge Bilal Siddique said the communication with the decoys was “appalling and atrocious”.
The judge said he had escaped going to jail by a “hair’s breadth” and passed an eight month sentence suspended for 18 months. He must complete 35 rehabilitation days, carry out 250 hours’ unpaid work and pay £535 prosecution costs. In addition, he must abide by a sexual harm prevention order and register as a sex offender for 10 years.