A convicted paedophile told what he thought was a 10-year-old girl that he loved her in a sick phone call recorded by a vigilante group.
Robert Hawes, 56, arranged to meet for sex but had no idea he was speaking to a member of a ‘paedo hunter’ group posing as a child.
In the phone call, Hawes asks the ‘girl’ what she’s “up to tonight” and then discusses their planned meeting before asking whether she would be bringing a friend.
As the phone call ends he twice says “love you” to the ‘child’, Devon Live reports.
Hawes had agreed to meet what he thought was an underage girl in London but skipped the meeting and went on a junior rugby tour with his son in Barnstaple, North Devon.
He had thought he was chatting to two girls, aged ten and 11, he met online but was chatting with members of a group called The Hunted One, who tracked him down to a holiday park in Woolacombe.
The secret group, based at Bromley, Kent, tipped off police after Hawes arranged to meet a ten-year-old.
Police arrested him before the group had a chance to confront him, and the vigilante group’s evidence of the chat logs and recorded phone calls led him to admit what he had done.
The material included images of his penis which he has sent to what he believed was a child of ten.
Hawes, of Daventry, Northamptonshire, pleaded guilty to attempting to incite a child to sexual activity and attempting to meet a child after grooming.
He was jailed for a total of 20 months by Recorder Mr Donald Tait at Exeter Crown Court.
Mr Tait told him: “The two girls in this case were fictitious but you believed one was ten and one was 11. Your offending was aggravated by the persistent nature of it over a period from December 2016 to March this year.
“It is also aggravated by the fact you sent picture of your private parts to a girl who you thought was ten with comments about where you wanted to put it.”
Jonathan Barnes, prosecuting, said Hawes met the ‘girls’ in internet chat rooms and sent them sexualised messages.
They recorded his chat logs and a phone call in which he tried to arrange a meeting in the London area in April.
Hawes did not make the rendez-vous on April 7 and instead went with a relative on a rugby tour to Barnstaple.
Miss Emily Pitts, defending, said Hawes had no intention of going through with the meeting and there was no risk to any child, even if the girl had been real rather than fictitious.
On the day of the assignation he was 200 miles away from the supposed meeting point. She said he was grateful to the police for intervening before he was found by the vigilantes.
Miss Pitts said Hawes has been diagnosed with early stage dementia which he fears is deteriorating.
She said he is keen to address his offending and has been deemed suitable for a probation run programme.