A MAN who pleaded guilty to attempting to engage in sexual communication with a girl under the age of 16 has escaped a prison sentence.

Adam Snowball (21) of Redburn View, Bardon Mill, was sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on Tuesday.

The court heard that Snowball contacted a fake profile on the dating app Blendr between August 6 to August 11, set by paedophile hunters, Guardians of the North.

Prosecutor Michael Bunch said: “He (Snowball) messaged a member of Guardians of the North. A fake profile was set up by a member of the group, purporting to be a 14-year-old girl called Louise.”

The court then heard that Snowball had sent indecent pictures and asked for sex and sexual activities, and offered to perform a sex act on video chat.

Snowball had organised to meet with ‘Louise’ in Newcastle, expressing disappointment that they would not be able to engage in sexual activity in a city centre.

However, when messages between the two trailed off, Guardians of the North travelled to his address in Bardon Mill and detained him until police arrived to arrest him.

Defending, Paul Caulfield pointed out that Snowball was in full-time employment and had a good future, and asked the judge to avoid a custodial sentence.

He said: “You can well imagine the humiliation for the family. You can imagine how they felt.

“He can’t explain why he did what he did.

“He didn’t know this was an offence.

“I do urge you to consider that there’s some merit in my submission.”

Judge Penny Moorland commented that the offence did seem like it crossed the custodial threshold.

However, she told Snowball: “I bear in mind that you’re someone who has potential for the future, and that you live in a home with supportive parents and you’re in full-time, good employment. I have taken into account the plea.”

Snowball was given a three-year community order, and will take part in a five-day rehabilitation scheme, as well as a 45-day sex offenders programme.

He will be on the sex offenders register for five years, and was placed on the barring list that will prevent him from working with children.

He is also subject to a five-year sexual harm prevention order.

Snowball was ordered to pay court costs of £500 and a victim surcharge of £85.