A man from Dunstable has been jailed after arranging to meet a child for sex.
Steven Johnson, 59, was handed a 30 month prison sentence at Luton Crown Court today (Friday) after he pleaded guilty to the charge at an earlier court hearing.
The court heard how Johnson, of Friars Walk, used a popular dating app to exchange numerous messages with another user, who he believed to be a 14-year-old boy and had made plans to meet up with him for sex.
On July 4, Johnson was arrested by police as he waited in his car at a retail park in Dunstable, where he had planned to meet the boy.
Officers seized his phone and found all the messages confirming the meeting.
Johnson will also spend 10 years on the sex offenders register.
Deborah Simpson, from Beds Police's internet child abuse investigation team, said: “Johnson was caught red-handed in the act of meeting a child for sex.
"The messages we found on his phone emphasised the importance of discretion, suggesting that Johnson knew what he was planning wasn’t legal.
“I am glad that Johnson pleaded guilty to both offences and I hope his time in prison will give him time to reflect on his actions, as well as serve as a warning to other predators who think this type of behaviour is acceptable.
“Any child can become the victim of grooming, no matter what their sex, ethnicity or background.
"If you think that this might be happening to you or someone you know then it’s important you speak out and tell someone you trust.”
Signs of child grooming include:
• children being very secretive, including about what they are doing online,
• having older boyfriends or girlfriends,
• going to unusual places to meet friends,
• having new things such as clothes or mobile phones that they can't or won't explain,
• having access to drugs and alcohol.
If you have any concerns about the possible sexual abuse of children, please call police immediately on 101, or 999 if someone is at immediate risk of harm.