A lorry driver who took a duvet and condoms with him to meet what he thought was a 12-year-old girl has been jailed after being snared by paedophile hunters.
Geoffrey Rimmington, 65, contacted “Hannah”, who he thought was a schoolgirl in care, on an adult social media site unaware it was really a fake profile set up by internet vigilantes.
He was caught after he travelled 130 miles from his home in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, to meet her in a McDonald's restaurant in Basildon, Essex.
When he arrived he was confronted by the vigilantes and found to have brought a duvet, a pillow and a box of condoms with him.
He was arrested and admitted attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity, attempting to meet a child from grooming, and owning extreme animal pornography.
Rimmington was sentenced to 18 months in prison at Warwick Crown Court on Friday and ordered to sign the Sex Offender Register for 10 years.
Jacob Hallam QC told him: “Plainly these offences are very serious, even when they do not involve a real child.
“From a very early stage you knew she was, ostensibly at least, a vulnerable child under the age of 13.
“You went to meet her, having groomed her, and as you said to the author of the pre-sentence report, there was in your mind at least the possibility of sexual contact with her.
“This is a case not only of a child you believed to be under 13, but also who you believed to be in care, and therefore even more vulnerable.”
Prosecutor Alex Warren said that in March 2018 Rimmington contacted someone he believed was a 12-year-old girl called Hannah online.
He said Rimmington quickly started talking to the girl about matters of a sexual nature.
Mr Warren said: “In June 2018 Hannah, who was supposedly in Basildon in Essex, told him she was unhappy in the care home, and was in a park and thinking of running away.
“Rimmington expressed concern for her, and then suggested he could get a hotel room for her, and that he would come to her location and meet up with her at a nearby McDonald’s.
“He then drove to Basildon for their arranged meeting at McDonald’s – but when he got there he was met by members of the group who detained him until the police arrived.
“When he was arrested, officers searched his car, and found a pillow, a duvet and a washbag containing condoms.
“When he was interviewed he tried to justify what he was doing as being motivated by concern for Hannah, rather than for his own sexual gratification.”
At his home, his laptop was seized, and on it the police found an “extreme image” showing an act of bestiality.
Colin Charvill, defending, said: “He accepts his conduct was entirely inappropriate. He’s remorseful and motivated not to re-offend.
“This sorry state of affairs didn’t start off with him looking for conversation with a child.
“He was on an adult website, and her profile was Hannah 0018, and he thought she was 18 when he made the original contact.
“Shortly after it was made known to him that this fictitious person was 12, and he continued with the contact.”