A “lonely” drunk who groomed and sent indecent pictures to someone he thought was a 13 year-old girl has been jailed for nearly three years.

Richard Myers, 44, was said to have been going out and drinking around £100 of booze a night during the two-month period he chatted to someone he thought was the girl on Facebook.

But Bradford Crown Court heard that Myers had in-fact been duped by a fake profile created by the Leeds-based Predator Exposure group.

Prosecutor Stephen Wood said that the group had used a generic picture of a child to create a profile for the girl which clearly displayed her age.

On August 31 last year, the page received a friend request from Myers, who then started a conversation via Facebook’s messenger service.

Mr Wood said that Myers immediately asked the girl if she was single, to which her account replied: “I’m 13 years old, I’ve never had a boyfriend.”

Myers told the girl he was aged 33, and asked her whether she would be his girlfriend, also telling her not to tell her parents about the messages.

On September 2, Myers sent an image of his genitals to the girl’s account, also asking her if he could see her undressed and in the shower.

On October 5, he sent another indecent image, and asked for pictures and video of the girl dressed just in her underwear. In a later message, he also suggested meeting up in Bradford, telling the girl she could visit him at an Audi garage on Canal Road, where he said he worked as a supervisor.

Myers sent further messages asking the girl to undress on October 22, but then broke off contact the following day, blocking any further messages from the girl’s account.

Mr Wood said that on October 29, members of Predator Exposure visited the Audi garage and confronted Myers, where he accepted he was behind the messages sent to the girl’s account.

He was arrested, but then denied to police that he had sent any messages or pictures, telling officers his account had been hacked by an ex-girlfriend with a grudge against him.

He also said he wasn’t a supervisor at the garage, but did work there as a cleaner.

Mr Wood said: “There was grooming behaviour evidenced by the chat logs. The conversations were initiated to provide the defendant with sexual gratification.”

Myers, of Manningham Lane, Bradford, had been due to stand trial for the offences in April but wrote to the court in December to state he wished to change his pleas.

He admitted one charge of attempting to sexually communicate with a child, two counts of attempting to engage in sexual activity in the presence of a child, and five offences of attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity.

Jayne Beckett, mitigating, said no actual child had been distressed by the case as the profile had been fake.

She said Myers had been living an “isolated and sad existence” at the time of the offending, binge drinking up to £100 of alcohol a night and being “in-drink” when sending the messages to the girl’s profile.

Judge Jonathan Rose said although no actual victim was involved in the case, Myers’ behaviour could only be described as “deviant.”

He said: “I accept you were lonely, I accept you were binge-drinking, but I note the frequency and deliberation that went into these messages.

“While of course the child in this case did not exist, you believed she was a real child and your sexual offending was very real.

“It is quite obvious you had a sexual interest in this girl from the outset. You knew what you were doing was wrong.”

Myers was jailed for a total of 32 months, made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, and must sign the sex offenders register indefinitely.