AN ANDOVER man has been handed a suspended prison sentence after being caught by a group of paedophile hunters when he sent sexual images to someone he thought was aged 13.

Kenneth Bedford, of Tweed Road, engaged in sexual discussions with someone who he beloved to be a 13-year-old girl.

The 60-year-old was in fact talking to an adult member of a paedophile hunter group called Innocent Voices.

The court heard he first made contact on Facebook messenger after sending a friend request to the decoy profile. He went on to send eight indecent photos and more than 75 requests asking for photos.

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Bedford appeared at Winchester Crown Court on Friday, January 12 to be sentenced.

Prosecutor Charlie Gabbs said: "The defendant was living alone in a flat and he was active on the internet. 

"He sent a request to someone… but in fact she doesn’t exist, it was a decoy."

Mr Gabbs said Bedford "quickly started engaging in sexual conversation" and sent eight photos of a sexual nature, and "repeatedly" asked her to send photos.

On Wednesday, February 15 Bedford contacted the girl while he was masturbating and got her to watch.

Mr Gabbs continued: "The decoy group went to his premises on Friday, February 17. Police were called and found his phone and he was arrested."

The court heard that Bedford felt "cheesed off" when he did not receive any indecent photos back.

In mitigation Chloe Jay said he has showed "genuine remorse" and said the events were "out of character".

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She added: "He had the facts of what had happened plastered all over Facebook and now has very little social interaction with anyone."

Bedford, who has no previous convictions, was sentenced to 15 months in prison, suspended for two years.

In sentencing, Judge R Taylor said: "You engaged in sexual communications and asked her for indecent images and sent indecent images.

"You asked her if she wanted to have sex with you and she repeatedly said she was only 13."

He must also complete 30 days of rehabilitation and 150 hours of unpaid work.