David Stephenson, a former Royal Navy sailor, thought he was talking to a 12-year old girl.
‘Lauren’ was in fact a police officer posing as the minor, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.
Stephenson, who served in the Royal Navy for over two decades, started to converse with Lauren through a website called Teen Chat. The website is intended for 13 to 19-year olds.
The 54-year olds’ conversations lasted two weeks before he they started to contain a sexual undertone.
The married man offered to meet the girl and asked her to bring a change of clothes, so she could change from her school uniform in his car, said Mr Howard Searle, the prosecutor.
Following the conversations with what Stephenson thought was a 12-year old, he performed a sex act over the internet for the ‘girl’.
Peter Barrie, the Judge at Wolverhampton Crown Court, told Stephenson:
“I do not believe you would have talked to a 12-year old girl in this manner if you were talking face to face but on the internet it becomes easy to abandon all self restraint.
“No harm was done because there was no real girl but, if there had been, it would have been damaging. It was a moment of madness from you.
“My priority is to ensure no real girl becomes a victim of behaviour like this from you and the best way for that to happen is for you to be taught not to offend in such a way.”
The Walsall based paedophile pleaded guilty to grooming a girl under the age of 16 with intention to meet her. He also pleaded guilty to two charges of attempting to engage in sexual activity with a child.
The defence, Miss Nicole Steers, stated that Stephenson’s actions have “shamed him” and accepts that his behaviour was completely “unacceptable” and “inappropriate”.
Stephenson was ordered to pay £500 towards the cost of the case and also to complete 120 hours unpaid work. He was also given a three-year community order enabling him to complete a Sex Offender Programme, and has been placed on the Sex Offender Register for five years.