A PERVERT snared by paedophile hunters has avoided jail despite trying to entice a fake child into sexual acts.

Brett Walden, 23, of no fixed address, escaped with a community order designed to change his behaviour when he appeared at Basildon Crown Court.

He was arrested in March 2017 after he took his laptop to a second hand electronics shop and staff found hundreds of indecent images of children on the laptop.

The images included children being abused, child and animal pornography.

He was released under investigation but .

Phillipa Page, prosecuting, said: “While under investigation he engaged with a member of a group trying to identify paedophiles.

“A fake profile was set up.

“In July Weldon requested to be friends and started messaging what he thought was a 12-year-old girl.

“He sent pictures and videos of himself carrying out sexual acts.

“He was identified by members of the vigilante group who called police.”

Weldon also called Essex Police to confess.

Shazia Malik, mitigating, claimed his client, a father-of-one, had battled with mental health difficulties.

She said: “He accepted he knew what he had done was wrong when he was arrested and he has completed a number of courses while in prison.”

Judge Ian Graham sentenced Weldon on Friday after he appeared at Basildon Crown Court via video link from Chelmsford Prison.

Speaking of the indecent images found on Weldon’s laptop Judge Graham said: “These are serious matters not just because of the disgusting material but these are images of real children being abused, it’s not just fantasy.”

He received a three year community order with 250 hours unpaid work and must attend a sex offender programme. He will be a registered sex offender for five years.