A SEX offender who was caught out by an adult woman pretending to be a young girl online has been spared jail.

Nathan Charles, of Plas Isaf in Rhosymedre, appeared at Mold Crown Court on Wednesday for sentence.

The 34-year-old had previously admitted that over the course of two days in October last year, he attempted to engage in sexual communication with a child.

Richard Edwards, prosecuting, told the court that on October 15, the defendant made contact with someone he believed to be a young girl on social media.

The 'girl' told him she was 12-years-old, and despite initially telling her he'd delete her as a contact, he continued the conversation and soon turned it to sexual subjects.

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As well as asking for photos of her in underwear, he made suggestions about sexual acts he'd perform with her and asked if she'd be his girlfriend.

But the person he was speaking to was an adult woman posing as a child.

When Charles was reminded about the girl being 12, he said: "Ok, I am 33," and carried on.

The conversation ended two days later and Charles was arrested at Shrewsbury Services on October 24.

He had a previous offence involving engaging in sexually explicit conversation online with someone he thought to be a 14-year-old.

The court heard after the conversations, Charles was confronted by a group of what Judge Nicola Saffman described as "like-minded individuals".

The Judge said: "He's a man with significant psychological problems and learning disabilities.

"When he tried to get away, they took him to the floor, took his phone and started filming him. It sounds close to a robbery to me.

"These people are members of the public, not the police - they have no training.

"They go online and pretend to be children and engage in the most vile discussions with individuals.

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"They have given the phone back, but there is a line which must be drawn and they have crossed it."

The Judge said the conduct of those who apprehended Charles didn't minimise what the defendant had done, but "that behaviour is unlawful and entirely inappropriate when dealing with a man with such severe learning disabilities."

Simon Parry, defending, agreed - adding: "The prosecution served the actual footage of the confrontation.

"When I watched it, it was one of the most disturbing things I have seen for quite a while, in its nature."

Mr Parry said a custodial sentence would be significantly more difficult for his client due to his difficulties - physical mental and social.

"He is extremely vulnerable," he said.

"As a family, this has had an enormous impact.

"[As a result of the defendant being filmed and put on social media] there have been protests outside the family home. There have been banners, damage to fences and gates, front windows being smashed.

"His mum tells me she is terrified of going home tonight."

Judge Saffman said although the defendant had been offered a sex-offenders treatment programme as part of his last sentence, covid-19 meant that the course had to be delivered online at that time; which was not sufficient for a man with the defendant's needs.

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The Judge handed down an eight-month prison sentence, but suspended it for two years.

Charles must undertake 60 days of rehabilitation activity in person, to address his offending.

He was made the subject of a 10 year sexual harm prevention order and will be subject to the notification requirements of the sexual offence act for the same duration.

The Judge told him: "You need to stop this behaviour; there will be no second chances, Mr Charles."