A cricketer who had been sending explicit messages to underage schoolgirls was confronted by paedophile hunters as his shocked teammates looked on.

David Hymers, 29, had been training on the field at Tynemouth Cricket Club when members of undercover organisation Guardians of the North arrived to challenge him about the messages.

His fellow cricketers were aghast, as the head of the group told the sportsman he needed to speak to him about the “conversations [he] had been having online”.

"The police are on their way,” he was told.

The disgraced sportsman was then filmed being arrested by two police officers who led him off the cricket ground.

Hymers, of Warton Terrace, Heaton, Newcastle, later admitted two charges of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, after he was duped into thinking he was chatting to teens aged 13 and 14 over social media.

The court heard of how Hymers, whose conversations became "more and more graphic", was confronted by the group last August
The court heard of how Hymers, whose conversations became "more and more graphic", was confronted by the group last August

But Newcastle Crown Court heard Guardians of the North, who set up fake internet accounts to expose online predators, were behind both of the fake profiles.

Prosecutor Andrew Espley told the court Hymers had started each online conversation with the chat-up line: "Hey, that's a nice top, did you get it on sale because it's 100 percent off at my place."

Mr Espley added: "He said he would extend the offer to their pants."

The court heard Hymers, whose conversations became "more and more graphic", was confronted by the group last August when they found out he played cricket for a local team.

One cricketer asked the head of Guardians, known only as Joe: "Mate, why are you here?"

Joe replied: "To get a paedophile off the streets."

Mr Espley said: "This case came to the attention of the authorities when Guardians of the North looked into the profile that the defendant had set up and established he would be playing cricket for a local cricket club on August 18.

"They turned up, they spoke to him, they called the police and Mr Hymers was arrested."

During the two illegal conversations, in March and August last year, it was "made very clear" that the girls were underage.

But Hymers, who was using the fake name "Hugh", continued with the sexual chat.

Mr Espley said during the online conversations Hymers sent a picture of his penis and drawings of sex positions.

He added: "The conversations became more and more graphic."

Mr Recorder Ben Nolan QC sentenced him to a community order for three years with sex offender programme requirements.

Hymers must sign the sex offenders register and abide by a sexual harm prevention order for five years.

The judge said paedophile hunter groups are "perfectly lawful" but said: "Whether or not that is to be approved of, I'm not going to make any comment."

The judge added: "It is a trick but it is a trick that you fell for. You fell for it for the worst of reasons."

The court heard Hymers has no previous convictions, provided references to his previous good character and has already undertaken a period of sex offender therapy voluntarily.

The judge said: "It is encouraging he underwent a period of therapy voluntarily and also encouraging to see letters of support he has, not least from the cricket club."

A spokesperson for the England and Wales Cricket Board said: "As soon as we were made aware of the allegations, Mr Hymers was immediately suspended from all cricketing activities overseen by the ECB.

"At the completion of the legal proceedings we will progress our own disciplinary process."