stephen short
Stephen Short brought wine and Viagra after believing he was meeting a 13-year-old girl Dark Justice

A man who was tricked by an online vigilante anti-paedophile group into thinking he was meeting a 13-year-old girl has been jailed.

Stephen Short, 57, of Blyth, Northumberland, turned up with two bottles of wine and three Viagra tablets, believing he was meeting a young girl at the Centre for Life in Newcastle after having sexually explicit conversations with her online.

However, Short had actually been speaking to members of Dark Justice, a group who pose as underage girls in order to trick predatory men into meeting them.

After pleading guilty to intending to meet a child under 16 following sexual grooming, Short has now been jailed for 16 months. He was also placed on the sexual offenders register for 10 years.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how Short was well aware he believed he was talking to a 13-year-old girl online, even telling the girl he would "bring wine and they could watch DVDs together".

After arriving at the Centre for Life, police were there waiting for Short, along with members of Dark Justice with a video camera.

Upon sentencing, Judge Bernard Gateshill QC told Short there was "no mitigation" in his case for the "very serious offence".

He added: "It is clear from your communications that you intended, if you could, to have penetrative sex with a 13-year-old girl.

"You did your best to arrange a meeting, you came prepared with drinks that you would have used to inebriate your victim, if there had been a 13-year-old girl waiting for you, and came equipped with Viagra tablets to assist you.

"Fortunately, no such girl was waiting for you and you were arrested at that stage by the police, who had been informed of your behaviour, which had been monitored by a representative of an organisation called Dark Justice."

Dark Justice, who previously told IBTimes UK that they always try to be as "peaceful and as quiet as possible" when conducting the stings – have now helped secure convictions of four men through their operations.