A MAN with a low mental age is on the sex offenders’ register after he fell into a vigilante internet trap.

George Cooper sent sexual messages to a fake Facebook profile of a 14-year-old girl set up by paedophile hunters, said Michael Greenhalgh, prosecuting at York Crown Court.

Then they confronted him at his home, streaming the meeting live online, and contacted police.

Separately ,21-year-old Cooper sent sexual messages via Facebook to a 16-year-old girl who claimed online she was 14.

Attempts to divert him from the court system by giving him a conditional police caution failed and he appeared before York Crown Court for sentence.

The Recorder of York, Judge Sean Morris, said “This is a highly unusual case.” Cooper’s mental age was some years below his physical age and he had “considerable difficulties”, the court was told.

“He is operating at a completely different level to a normal adult,” said the judge. “Justice would not be met by an immediate or suspended sentence of imprisonment.”

He gave Cooper a three-year community order with 40 days’ rehabilitative activities and agreed with the probation service that it would use the days to monitor and help Cooper continue work he is already taking to deal with his mental issues.

Cooper, of Swinton, near Malton, admitted two attempted online sexual offences.

His lawyer Graham Parkin handed in a psychological report and references. Probation officers prepared a pre-sentence report on him.

In addition to the sentence, Cooper was put on the sex offenders’ register for five years and made subject to a sexual harm prevention order controlling his use of the internet and access to children, also for five years.

Mr Greenhalgh said a member of the online paedophile hunting group set up a Facebook account posing as a 14-year-old girl.

Cooper contacted the profile between December 3 and December 8, 2018, and made sexual comments and requests of her. He asked her to visit him in Malton.

On December 12, the group confronted him at his home.

From December 9 to December 11, 2018, Cooper made sexual comments and requests of the 16-year-old girl.