A teenager pestered underage ‘girls’ to send him naked pictures.

Joe Law, now 22, sent vile messages to eight Facebook profiles purporting to belong to young girls in 2018 and 2019.

But at least five of the ‘girls’ were actually members of so-called ‘paedophile hunter’ groups, posing as girls aged 12 to 14 in an effort to catch would-be abusers.

Oxford Crown Court heard that Law sent repeated requests for the girls to send him pictures of their bodies – despite being told they were as young as 12.

When one of the youngsters told him she was at school, he wrote back: “Well, go to the toilet, then. You won’t get into trouble by doing that. Or do it after school when you’re in your bedroom.”

Another ‘girl’, who was asked for ‘sexy pics’ of herself, was instructed not to tell anybody about their conversations and ordered to delete their Facebook Messenger conversations.

On April 5, 2019, members of group Catching Online Predators – or ‘COP’ – staged a sting, going to Law’s home in Banbury. He wasn’t in, with his mum calling police to report there were people outside her property taking pictures and asking to speak to her son.

Law was later reported missing. Two days later he called West Mercia Police to say that he’d seen the appeal and reassuring them that he was safe. He met officers in Hereford and was arrested in connection with the illegal chats.

The conversations with at least one ‘decoy’ Facebook profile continued after his arrest. Asked by the ‘girl’ why he got into trouble, he told her that there were ‘individuals trying to make me go to prison’ and that he’d been warned not to talk about it.

Despite the warning shot across his bows, he asked the ‘girl’ during a game of ‘truth or dare’ in their Facebook Messenger conversation to send him a picture of her body and boasted of being 6ft 7ins tall.

Messages found on his phone after his arrest pointed to him speaking to another four girls aged between 11 and 14 – in addition to the four ‘girls’ linked to differed vigilante group.

He was interviewed by the police and claimed not to remember the Facebook interactions, telling detectives he’d been ‘in a bad way’ at the time. “It’s all on my phone so I can’t deny anything,” he said.

Law, of Artizan Road, Northampton, pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court to attempting to cause a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity and attempted sexual communication with a child.

He was given a three year community order, a sexual harm prevention order until further notice and must sign on as a sex offender for five years.