A PAEDOPHILE who sent videos and indecent messages to two young girls was caught after they turned out to be decoys operated by online child activist groups.

When Curtis Thackray, from Ingleton,  was arrested, police found more than 7,000 indecent images of children - some as young as one - on multiple mobile phones.

He had used a specialist app to anonymously access pictures of children on the dark web.

Thackray, 25, was sentenced to a total of four years and three months imprisonment at Bradford Crown Court by Recorder Patrick Palmer.

Thackray pleaded guilty to three counts of making an indecent photograph/pseudo photograph of a child; attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child; causing a child under 13 to watch/look at an image of sexual activity; and attempting to cause/incite a female child to engage in sexual activity.

Prosecutor Jonathan Adams told the court that Thackray contacted a girl who said she was 11 years old.

Mr Adams said the conversation “became sexualised almost immediately” with Thackray asking her for pictures of her naked breasts and sending her a photograph of his genitals.

He said he would tell everyone at her school that she was “a slut” if she did not send images in return.

Over a three-week period, he also sent her several videos of himself masturbating, as well as 10 other pornographic videos.

Thackray made contact with a second girl, aged 12 – also a decoy – by sending her a friend request on Facebook. She was asked to send a picture of herself in a school uniform and was also sent pornographic videos and photographs.

When he was interviewed by police Thackray, of Brookacre, Ingleton, refused to hand over his mobile phone and was consequently arrested.

He said a friend had sent him a link containing images and denied having an interest in child porn.

However, his various devices were found to contain indecent images of children.

These included Category A material, the most severe – aged from two to 15, as well as others aged from one year to 16.

Thackray, who appeared by video link from HMP Hull, was seen weeping on screen.

Verity Barnes, mitigating, said evidence of grooming behaviour was accepted, and that Thackray had written a note after his arrest admitting the offences, saying he had a sex addiction and needed help.

She said he had suffered from depression, which in turn led to an increase in drug and alcohol abuse.

She said he was “very remorseful” and added: “It’s clear he has come to realise that he has problems. He feels a great sense of shame and regret.”