A SEX offender who attempted to groom children was snared by paedophile hunters operating online.

Malcolm Barnard was confronted on Canvey and appeared at Basildon Crown Court yesterday.

The 49-year-old, formerly of Leigh but now of Crostwick, Norfolk, admitted attempting to incite a 13-year-old girl to engage with sexual activity and attempting to cause a 14-year-old girl to watch sexual activity.

The court heard he had been forced to move after a video was released of him in Dovercliff Road car park, Canvey, by Secret Whispers UK.

Steven Levy, mitigating, said he was a man “of good character” with no previous convictions and requested a pre-sentence report.

Mr Levy also confirmed his client had decided to move after being caught.

During the video Barnard can be see phoning his boss at a business on Canvey.

He said: “I have done the worst thing ever.

“You’re going to hate me, everyone is going to hate me. I won’t be ever coming to work again, I will be put in prison, I am finished, my life is over.”

Judge Samantha Cohen adjourned the sentencing hearing until July 4 so a report can be prepared.

Addressing Barnard, she said: “The offences that you have admitted are of course extremely serious.

“I should tell you that because I have asked for a pre-sentence report, there is absolutely no guarantee at all that your final sentence will not be an immediate custodial sentence.

“It is important that you be frank with the team when they compile your pre-sentence report when asking about you, even if it is difficult to talk about.

“Whilst you are on bail you must not have any unsupervised contact with anyone under the age of 18.”

Barnard responded: “I have never had contact with any child under 18 unsupervised. Ever.”

Initially, Barnard faced allegations of assault and dangerous driving, after a member of Secret Whispers claimed Barnard attempted to flee, but these have been dropped.