A chatroom predator from Newton Abbot who tried to get girls as young as 11 to have sex with dogs has been sent on a sex offenders’ course.

Lawrence Head, aged 65, was trapped by paedophile hunters who posed as 11 or 12-year-olds on the Chat Avenue app, which is popular with schoolchildren.

He asked the decoys to send him images of themselves and offered to send them photos of him masturbating. He also suggested they touch themselves or take part in sex acts with pets.

Head, of Highweek Road, Newton Abbot, admitted two counts of attempting to incite a child to sexual activity, two of attempted sexual communications with a child and three of making, by downloading, indecent images of children.

He was jailed for two years, suspended for two years, and ordered to attend the Maps for Change sex offenders’ course, do 30 days of rehabilitation and pay £365 costs by Recorder Mr Malcolm Galloway at Exeter Crown Court.

He was put on the sex offenders’ register and made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, which controls his future use of the internet. Both orders will last 10 years. 

The judge told him: “With the assistance of probation, you can substantially reduce the danger you may pose to children, so I am prepared to suspend the sentence.”

Mr Michael Brown, prosecuting, said Head contacted two girls he believed to be 11 and 12 in 2020 on Chat Avenue and moved their conversations to the more secure WhatsApp platform.

He did not realise he was communicating with adults from paedophile hunting groups and sent sexual messages, telling one that 12 was a ‘nice age when things start to pop out’. 

He asked her to send him images, including one of her in uniform and suggested she touch herself or perform an act of bestiality.

He met the second decoy, posing as an 11-year-old, in identical circumstances, and made similar requests. The paedophile hunters alerted the police and handed over the chat logs. Head was found with 12 indecent images of children, which he had deleted but were still in the memory of his computer.

Miss Evie Dean, defending, said Head had not posed as a youngster and been honest about his age. There had been no contact with real children and he now accepts he needs help.

He suffered abuse as a child including repeated physical assaults by his father which have left him with permanent damage to his thigh. He is currently surviving on benefits.

As he left court, Head told the judge: 'I’m sorry, I’ll never see you again.'

The judge responded: 'I reply to that by saying ‘good’.'