A TORFAEN husband arranged to meet an underage schoolgirl – only to be caught by a paedophile hunting group.
Mark Pritchard, 42, claimed he was lonely after the breakdown of his marriage.
A husband whose marriage had broken down tried to meet an underage girl for oral sex but was caught by a paedophile hunter.
Mark Pritchard, 42, was jailed at Newport Crown Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to sexual grooming.
He also pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled Class B drug after police discovered cannabis when searching his home in Cwmbran.
Pritchard, who claimed to be depressed and lonely after his marriage had broken down, made contact with a he believed to be a 14-year-old girl using a messaging app.
But it was in fact a member of paedophile hunting group Petronus.
Speaking at the hearing, prosecutor David Pinnell said: “[The Petronus member] was contacted on June 8 this year by this defendant by sending her a picture of himself, a decent image of his upper body and face.
“He introduced himself and she relayed she was 14 and made that clear from the outset. He said he was 36 but he is 42.
“There were a large number of messages between the date of June 8 and July 9.
“In the course of that month the messages gradually became more sexual in nature.
“The defendant seemed reluctant to engage in anything that amounted to sexual intercourse due to the issue of contraception.
“He was far less reluctant about other sexual activity and engaged in conversation encouraging her to perform oral sex on him and said he would reciprocate.
The defendant arranged to meet with the fictional teenager on July 9 at a pub in Malpas, in Newport, believing her mother was not at home at her house nearby.
Pritchard turned up at the pub car park at 9.30pm while other members of the Petronus group were in the area.
He realised something was not quite right, panicked, and left to return home to Cwmbran.
He was followed by a member of the Petronus group and was “detained” before agreeing to attend Cwmbran police station where he was arrested.
He told police he had thrown his phone away, which was later found.
A search was carried out at Pritchard’s home, in Trostrey, where they found a pot containing cannabis in his bedroom.
In his police interview Pritchard said his marriage to his wife had broken down which had left him feeling “distressed” and “socially isolated” and as a result he had started using the internet to socialise.
Speaking about his client, defence barrister Richard Ace said: “He wants to make it clear to the court he is disgusted about what went on and wants to apologise for what is a serious matter.
“He realises his actions are going to affect others in his life, including his children.”
Sentencing, Judge Daniel Williams said: “You believed from the outset you were messaging a 14-year-old girl and you said you wanted to meet her.
“There was talk of having sexual intercourse and you wanted her to perform oral sex on you.”
The judge added: “You said you were isolated and depressed after the break down of your marriage and you got carried away with the communication between you and Sam.
“No child was actually involved but you believed you were talking with a 14-year-girl and communication took place over a long period of time.”
Pritchard was jailed for a year and was made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order.
He was also ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register.