A 57-year-old Devon man who arranged to sexually abuse a child has been jailed for five and a half years thanks to a police sting operation.

James Pidgeon, of Crest Hill, Buckfastleigh, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to arranging/facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, as well as the distribution of indecent photographs of children and breaching a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO), which places restrictions on a person's access to the internet.

Pidgeon was sentenced at Exeter Crown Court on Tuesday, 3 October, to the jail term with an extended five years on license. He was also given an indefinite SHPO and forfeiture of digital devices order.

Exeter Crown Court heard how Pidgeon, a registered sex offender with prior convictions for possession and making indecent images of children, was already subject to an SHPO.

Despite the prevention order, he continued to commit online offences relating to children.

Following work carried out by the Devon and Cornwall Police Paedophile Online Investigation Team, Pidgeon was identified by investigators and an investigation was launched.

Meanwhile, a sting operation by the North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU) revealed that Pidgeon was engaged in online conversations with someone he believed had access to a child. In fact, the person was a NEROCU police officer.

Transcripts of their online conversations showed that Pidgeon had bragged about how he had been a paedophile for more than 30 years and sent multiple indecent images and videos of children being sexually abused, some of which featured babies being abused.

Within these transcripts, Pidgeon talked of his desire to rape children, with his sexual preferences being female toddlers, and that the purpose of the meeting was to gain access to a child that he could rape.

They arranged to meet up on Torquay seafront where officers swooped in and made their arrest.

Pidgeon was remanded into custody in July this year and was charged with arranging/facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, distribution of indecent images of children and breach of a sexual harm prevention order.

Investigating Officer Detective Constable Sophie House said: “Despite being subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, this did not deter Pidgeon from continuing to commit online offences relating to children.

“I hope this conviction serves as a stark warning to those with an unlawfully blurred view when it comes to online offences relating to children.

“This case shows our dedicated and specialist team works tirelessly to bring offenders to justice. Online offending is sadly on the rise, but our investigative skills and evidence gathering are constantly evolving.

“This was a collaborative effort involving officers from the Devon and Cornwall Paedophile Online Investigation Team, the NEROCU and the Devon and Cornwall Digital Forensic Unit.

“We will never stop investigating these online offences in order to safeguard children and protect the public from those who would seek to hurt children. For those tempted to engage in this type of behaviour, our message is simple- you will be caught, and you can expect a knock at the door from us.”

Police issued a statement, offering support and advice to anyone who may have been affected by the revelations about Pidgeon.

Individuals can also click on this link for information and details of support organisations.

To report a crime, police can be contacted by calling 101 or via the Devon and Cornwall Police website.