A pensioner pervert was cut out of his children's lives after they found out about a string of child sex offences.

Thomas O’Halloran, 72, thought he was in contact with a 12-year-old girl and two 14-year-olds and told the youngest one that he felt "horny".

He also sent her a video involving a woman performing a sex act on a man and told her to delete it. He then asked when she would be alone so he could send her further pornographic videos.

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Liverpool Crown Court heard on Monday, November 29, that O’Halloran, of Duke Street, St Helens, was trapped by the ‘Fleetwood Enforcers UK’, a voluntary sexual offenders hunting group.

The group creates decoy profiles with an image of young girls - which are actually edited photographs of a female group member - which they send if requested.

Ken Grant, prosecuting, said: "In July this year O’Halloran initiated communication initially on Facebook Messenger before requesting to switch to WhatsApp with the decoys and continued with this communication despite being made fully aware of the respective ages."

From July 3 he engaged in sexual communication with a decoy posing as a 14-year-old girl.

The father-of-three referred to sexual activities and referred to himself having sex with another 14-year-old girl and sent a picture of a clothed 14-year-old girl saying he had had sex with her and he discussed "upskirting".

Two days later he communicated with another decoy posing as a 14-year-old girl and said she was "gorgeous" and said he wanted to hug her.

From July 8 he engaged in sexual communication with a decoy claiming to be 12-years-old, saying she was gorgeous, beautiful and attractive and referred to her as "sexy".

Mr Grant said O’Halloran warned her not to disclose the communication to anyone, saying he felt "horny" and discussed what he wanted to do with her and also send her a video of a female performing a sex act on a man which he told her to delete.

All communication ended on July 14 and the group created a file of evidence and on July 15 conducted a "sting" operation where a member of the group confronted the pensioner at his home.

The confrontation was live streamed by the group and when the police were informed they arrested him.

When interviewed he admitted the communications but said he was not attracted to underage girls and denied having sexual intercourse with any underage girl, said Mr Grant.

Jailing him for 12 months the judge, Recorder Ian Unsworth, QC, said that he had pleaded guilty to three serious sexual matters.

He said the contents of his conversations with the ‘girls’ "were not only lewd but wholly inappropriate and could properly be described as grooming".

Recorder Unsworth pointed out that O’Halloran had not stopped his behaviour himself, it had been terminated when he was confronted by the voluntary sexual offenders hunting group.

And he said that the case "was clearly aggravated by your express instruction to someone you believed to be a very young girl to delete that recording".

O’Halloran pleaded guilty to three offences involving attempted sexual communication with the first 14-year-old and the 12-year-old to obtain sexual gratification and attempting to cause the youngest girl to look at an image of sexual activity.

Stella Hayden, defending, said that O’Halloran only has one previous offence which involved indecent exposure for which he was fined in 1985.

She said he had moved to England from Kildare in Ireland in the 1960s and had worked as a hospital porter before marrying and moving to St Helens. He worked for a furniture company and driving for a haulage firm before he had retire through ill health 20 years ago.

Miss Hayden said that he has serious on-going health difficulties.

He has three adult children and until the offences came to light he was in almost daily contact with them but they are now estranged from him, as is his family in Ireland.

Miss Hayden said added: "I appreciate, as does he it is his own actions that have led to the situation….but the impact he feels keenly.”

He has lived alone in his council accommodation for the past 20 years but if jailed he would lose his home.

Miss Hayden said the whole experience of coming to court and his personal situation has been a “salutary” lesson. She pointed out that there was no actual victim.

The judge ordered O’Halloran to sign on the Sex Offenders Register for ten years and imposed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for the same length of time.

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