A MAN who thought he was sending naked pictures to an underage teenager has been given a suspended sentence because he has "seen the light".

Paul Harris, of Hyde Farm Corner, Braintree, thought he was messaging a 13-year-old girl called Millie in November last year and went on to send nude pictures of himself.

But the account was being run by paedophile hunters.

They sent Harris a link which he thought was going to be a picture of the 'teenager'.

Braintree and Witham Times: Breach – Harris breached a suspended sentence by committing the offences last year, the court heardBreach – Harris breached a suspended sentence by committing the offences last year, the court heard (Image: Newsquest)

The link instead provided the paedophile hunters with Harris’s address, and he was then reported to the police.

Harris admitted to engaging in sexual communication with a child and causing a child aged 13 to 15 to watch an image of sexual activity.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard how Harris’s offending breached an already imposed suspended sentence which had resulted in him being recalled to prison.

Mitchell Cohen, mitigating, argued a suspended sentence would allow Harris to work with probation and reduce the likelihood of his reoffending.

He said: “He wants the help now being offered to him by probation.

“I am instructed to say that he has, to some extent and in a non-religious way, seen the light.

“You can put him in prison and make him stay there longer, but prison doesn’t frighten this man – as soon as he is released, he is back on the streets, back amongst associates, and back among illegal drugs."

Braintree and Witham Times: Unusual – Recorder Clegg KC made the unusual move of passing a suspended sentence on Harris, despite the fact he was already a serving prisonerUnusual – Recorder Clegg KC made the unusual move of passing a suspended sentence on Harris, despite the fact he was already a serving prisoner (Image: Newsquest)

Recorder Clegg KC said: “Mr Khan, you’ve convinced me," before jailing Harris for 12 months suspended for two years.

Mr Clegg KC told Harris: “I’m taking a chance with you.

“It’s very unusual to pass a suspended sentence on someone who is still serving a term.

“The Court of Appeal discourages that approach, but I am doing so at one request to provide with the external help which will be available to you on your release this summer.

“If you do come back again, I don’t think you will come across a judge as benevolent as me.”