A former social worker who arranged to have sex with an eight-year-old girl has been jailed for four years.
Nicholas Allen, 54, believed he was meeting with the mother and stepmother of the girl when he travelled from his home in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, to the village of Leybourne, Kent, in order to carry out the sexual abuse, Maidstone Crown Court was told.
But the two women, who had also told Allen they were in a lesbian relationship, turned out to be undercover police officers from the Kent force and he was arrested.
Today, the father-of-two pleaded guilty to arranging the commission of a child sex offence between April 9 and May 15 this year, with the intention of having penetrative sex with an eight-year-old child.
He had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, the court heard.
Allen claimed that he had been gathering evidence of alleged abuse to give to police when he was questioned about the online and text message conversations with the undercover officers, prosecutor Serena Gates said.
She said that although Allen's dialogue with the two officers was cautious at first, as he became more confident he talked about what he would like to do to the girl and asked how he would go about meeting up with them to carry out the abuse.
Allen also asked what protection there would be for the three or them saying "no-one wants to end up next to Stuart Hall", the former BBC broadcaster who was convicted and jailed last year and earlier this year for child sex offences, the court was told.
On May 14, Allen met with the officers and was arrested, Miss Gates said.
She continued: "He told police he had been a social worker for 30 years but that he had been dismissed for sending inappropriate text messages to a 15-year-old girl."
The court heard Allen also had a caution for a previous sexual assault on a teenager.
Kieran Moroney, representing Allen, said the defendant had suffered a breakdown in his late 40s and early 50s which had culminated in the end of his marriage.
He said that although Allen was a "sexual deviant" he had talked about being "stupid, naive and angry with himself" for getting involved and that there was "remorse" for what he had done.
Judge David Griffith-Jones jailed Allen and told him he would have to sign the sex offenders' register for an indefinite period.
He also made him the subject of a sexual offences prevention order (Sopo) and said it was likely that Allen would be barred by the relevant statutory authority from working with children.
He said: "It's quite clear that your offending behaviour was sexually motivated.
"Initial protestations that you were involved in some kind of research or crusade to reveal perpetrators of these offences was wholly untrue."
He went on: "These offences were, in short, calculated over a significant period of time."