A MIDDLE-AGED internet pervert who got a schoolgirl to strip and perform sex acts over her web cam was today starting an eight month jail term.

Burnley Crown Court heard how married slaughterhouse worker John Thomas Snaith, 50, conned the 14-year-old girl into thinking he was about 18 and when police turned up at his house in Colne, they mistakenly arrested his 20-year-old son.

Snaith, who had been having sexually explicit discussions with the child he met in a chat room, had also downloaded child porn and had a vulgar email address.

He blamed the girl and the internet service providers for his behaviour.

The defendant, who had never broken the law before, admitted five charges of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity between June and December 2004, five specimen allegations of making an indecent photo of a child and possessing an indecent photo of a child.

Sentencing, Judge Alan Taylor told Snaith his conversations with the girl had been smutty.

He went on: "It was really quite filthy. You, at the age of 50, really should have been quite ashamed of yourself doing what you did."

The judge added that the girl may have been fairly willing to pose indecently but she was only 14 and Snaith had deceived her. The defendant, of Fothergill Street, was also placed on the Sex Offenders Register.

Sarah Statham, prosecuting, told the court that in February last year, police searched the defendant's home after information received about his computer.

He was not there, his wife and son were and the defendant was later arrested at work.

Officers found he had downloaded 29 indecent photos of children and that he had also been a frequent user of internet chatrooms. Police discovered sexually explicit material directed at an underage girl, traced her and she gave a statement.

Miss Statham said it appeared the defendant began to talk to the girl over the internet in March 2004. He was at that time 48, pretended to be someone much younger and the girl believed he was an 18-year-old boy.

The prosecutor said the girl was fairly clear she told the defendant she was 14. Their chat would start at 4.30pm when she returned from school and he from work.

Snaith asked the girl to show her breasts and her private parts over her web cam and eventually she did, as well as committing sex acts.

Miss Statham said the girl asked the defendant if he would reveal himself on his webcam but he made excuses and said it was faulty.

The prosecutor told the court when questioned about the downloaded photos Snaith's explanation at first was dubious. He said he had been looking for Madonna's Like a Virgin music and when he typed it in his computer the photos appeared. He eventually accepted he had done it out of curiosity and then curiosity got the better of him and he went on to view more serious photos.

The defendant claimed to officers he regularly visited chatrooms to discuss sex, thought he mainly talked to women over 18 but accepted he knew the victim would have been under 16 as he had seen her on the webcam. He had no intention of trying to meet her.

Tim Ashmole, defending, said Snaith, a slaughterhouse worker for 32 years, was not sexually aroused by the child porn. His wife was embarrassed, ashamed and disgusted by what he had done.

The barrister went on: "This case shows just how simple and easy it is to access the internet. He went to a search engine, typed in the word Lolita and within something like a tenth of a second, about 10,500 images appeared.

"I suggest it shows the internet service providers and those responsible for maintaining the search engines don't perhaps police the internet as well as they should."