A PAEDOPHILE who thought he was talking to a 12-year-old girl asked her to "play with him" in park toilets or a hotel room.

Harold Blackburn, 63, was in fact speaking to an undercover police officer when he sent sexual pictures of himself and a video of himself naked in the shower.

Preston Crown Court were told how Blackburn, of Lawrence Street, Blackburn, had added the decoy, called 'Gemma', as a friend on Snapchat, with her user profile stating, “I’m 12, female, UK.”

The account asked Blackburn how he had found her and he replied his 16-year-old son had been in a teenage chat room. ‘Gemma’ again reminded him of her age.

Prosecuting, Michelle Brown said the conversation quickly became sexual in nature.

He then started grooming ‘Gemma’ saying he wanted to take her out "to buy underwear and a necklace" before asking if they could go to a restaurant or hotel to play.

Blackburn asked her if she knew of any toilets in a park where they could "play" in case he couldn’t get a hotel.

Officers arrested him on September 7, 2020, at his home where they found children’s toys in the living room.

It was discovered that a young child had been staying.

He told police he thought ‘Gemma’ was a man from Yorkshire and said they had initiated contact, but after being told who she really was he admitted speaking to her and sending the images, calling himself a “stupid old man”.

After admitting what he had done, he told police he had no intention of actually meeting up with ‘Gemma’.

A phone and laptop were confiscated where police found an indecent image of a girl.

Also found were references to searches for websites depicting child sexual abuse and a police document about where images of that nature could be sourced on social media.

In mitigation, Laura Broome said that Blackburn had admitted the offences to police after his arrest but the case had then taken nearly two years to get to court.

She also said Blackburn had not committed any offences during this time.

Ms Broome said: “There is no suggestion he has committed any further offences.

“The arrest came as a sharp shock to him and he knows that that behaviour is utterly unacceptable.”

Blackburn pleaded guilty to attempting to incite a female child aged under 13 to engage in sexual activity, attempting to cause a child under 13 to watch or look at an image of sexual activity, attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and making an indecent photograph of a child.

Blackburn also breached his bail conditions by arriving to court late for his sentencing.

He has been remanded into custody for sentence to be passed by Judge Graham Knowles QC on Wednesday, June 29.