A convicted sex offender who arranged to meet someone he thought was a 14 year-old boy has been jailed for two and-a-half years.

Billy Keir had started contact on Facebook Messenger with someone he believed was a 14 year-old boy called ‘Tom’ between 20 and 24 August.

The conversation moved to WhatsApp and the messages became sexual in their content before Keir arranged to meet ‘Tom’ in Chelmsford.

When he arrived at the railway station he was confronted by a paedophile hunter group who then called the police.

Keir, 45, of Church Avenue, Chelmsford was arrested and later charged with a number of offences.

During interview he stated he never believed ‘Tom’ was 14 as he didn’t write like a 14 year-old.

When officers carried out a search of his home address they found a phone, condoms and lubrication.

Keir, who was subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) following a previous conviction relating to sexual offences against children, admitted attempting to meet a child under 16 following grooming, attempting to cause a child to watch a sexual act, and attempting to breach a SHPO.

He denied attempting to communicate with a child under 16 and that charge was allowed to lie on file.

At Chelmsford Crown Court on 26 November he was jailed for two and-a-half years and given a further six years on extended licence.

Investigating officer PC John-James McGuirk said: “Billy Keir is a dangerous paedophile who has a history of sexual offences against children.

"He showed little regard for the order put in place intended to protect children from him. "From the evidence discovered as part of the investigation it was clear he had intended to sexually abuse ‘Tom’ if he had had the chance but fortunately that was never a possibility. "He now faces time in prison and Essex is a safer place for that.”