A charity worker, who was caught by paedophile hunters trying to arrange a threesome with a 14-year-old girl, has been spared a prison sentence.

Toni Stevens believed he was meeting a teenage girl when he had actually been swapping texts with members of a paedophile vigilante group based in Plymouth.

The 32-year-old was filmed when he was confronted by members of Plymouth Against Paedophiles on 27 November after exchanging WhatsApp messages with their members.

Stevens admitted two counts of engaging in sexual communications with children at Exeter Crown Court, where he was spared a jail term by Judge Graham Cottle.

Stevens was handed a 12-month jail sentence, suspended for two years, and told to complete an accredited sexual offender programme, sign the Sex Offender's Register and made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

Defending Stevens, Michael Brown, said his client acknowledged he had a problem with his behaviour.

"He is incredibly motivated to address these issues," said Brown, according to Devon Live.

"He was very open with the probation officer and recognises he has a problem which he would like to address. He could be sent to prison today but is that going to tackle the underlying issue?"

The court was told that Stevens thought he had been messaging several teenagers online before he arranged to meet one 14-year-old girl.

Stevens repeatedly asked to have sex with the girl, despite knowing her age and suggested that they have a threesome in a series of chats.

After being confronted in the undercover sting by the vigilante group he said: "I'm ashamed of myself".

Plymouth Against Paedophiles filmed themselves apprehending Stevens whilst he was working for Hele's Angels charity shop in Torquay.

Dennis Hagger, the chairman of Hele's Angels, said Stevens was working for them as a volunteer and did not have contact with children on their premises: "At no time did he have contact with children on our premises. He was never left alone while there were other people there".