A paedophile told police he was trying to help a 12-year-old boy after he was caught in an undercover sting sending sexually-charged messages to an officer posing as a child.
Deano Lisney, 52, denied he gained any gratification from the sick messages he sent to a person he believed to be a young boy named James.
From October 18 last year, Lisney was in fact sending sexually explicit messages to an undercover officer.
Richard Burrington, prosecuting at Chelmsford Crown Court, said: The defendant was using Instagram and he followed the boy he thought was 12 years old, thats James.
James then essentially followed him back and thats how the pair made contact with each other.
In an opening message to Lisney, the officer indicated the fake boys age.
The defendant replied immediately, said Mr Burrington.
He said he was 51, he introduced himself in terms of where he lived namely the area of Clacton.
Lisney said the boy didnt look 12 judging by his profile picture.
The court heard the conversation unfolded over the course of around two weeks, starting innocuously.
The defendant wheeled it round to matters of a sexual nature fairly swiftly, said Mr Burrington.
Lisney was traced through his social media profile and arrested.
In interview, he confirmed he had a conversation with James and said he recalled his age even adding he was a nice young lad.
But he said he would never have taken it any further and said he was literally just chatting.
Mr Burrington said: In terms of his motivation, he said there was no sexual gratification gained through this conversation he was not sexually aroused by the suggestions he was making of James and in his words the defendant said he thought he was just helping him.
Lisney, of Fletchers Caravan Park, St Osyth, admitted one count of attempting to cause or incite a child to engage in sexual activity.
Describing the case as an unusual situation, Mr Levy said: Normally they are paedophile hunter groups who in effect post the profile and undertake to basically lie dormant until someone actually makes contact.
This is actually a police operation in which the defendant has liked the Instagram post, that person has liked them back as I understand how Instagram works and in effect its then the police officer who starts the conversation and the conversation then develops into a sexual [one].