A PERVERT who avoided prison for downloading a stash of indecent images has now been jailed for sending explicit messages to who he thought was a teenage girl.

Stephen Lutkins was handed a six-month suspended sentence in January.

But just three months later, he began chatting to a person on dating app Nearby who claimed they were 13-years-old.

In fact, Lutkins, 49, was messaging a 30-year-old woman who had duped him - known as a decoy.

Lutkins himself had lied about his age - saying he was 30.

Over six days of conversation in April - which eventually moved to Whatsapp - Lutkins asked the girl to perform an intimate act on herself on several occasions.

Each time she refused and said she could not accept phone calls from him in case her mother overheard them.

He was eventually confronted at home by vigilantes who called the police and he was arrested.

During the chat, Lutkins never arranged to meet the girl but told her he would be in a pub near to where she claimed to live if she was in the area.

Lutkins had been banned from contacting children because of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) handed to him when he was sentenced for his haul of more than 400 images.

He admitted breaching the order and attempting to incite a child into sexual activity.

Lutkins, now of Saddebrook Chase, Jaywick, also failed to tell police he had moved house - which was another condition of his order - and breached his suspended sentence.

At Chelmsford Crown Court, judge David Pugh handed Lutkins 18 months in jail - one year for the messages and the additional six months for the previous offences.

He said: “It is clear you engaged in grooming behaviour with that person.

“The reason you are charged with attempting to incite is because it was a decoy - a 30-year-old woman - and the offence could never have actually come to fruition.

“It was very shortly after the first sentence had been passed.”

Lutkins also had his SHPO extended. It will now run for ten years.

Steven Levy, mitigating, said Lutkins began messaging the teen because he was lonely.

He said: “When the police looked at his phone there was no evidence he was trying to search for child pornography again.

“But there is no getting away from the fact she told him she was 13.

“They chatted over a period of days and during this time he was consuming alcohol and was looking for escapism.

Mr Levy added: “He told the probation service he had changed his address.

“But it is not their responsibility to tell the police - he accepts he should have contacted them.”