A MAN tried to meet someone he thought was a 12-year-old girl for sex, only to be caught by a police officer.

George Vasile began messaging the profile of a 12-year-old girl on a dating site in the summer this year, with the messages turning sexual.

The 39-year-old of Pagette Way, Grays, was in fact talking to an undercover police officer posing as a girl.

Vasile appeared at Basildon Crown Court on Tuesday for sentencing.

He appeared in a dark suit and a Romanian interpretor was present for the hearing.

Prosecuting, Richard Scott told the court that the profile, with the pseudonym “Ella” had received messages from Vasile asking if she liked “sexy underwear” and that whilst she had put her age as 18 on her profile, due to it being a requirement for the site, she had put in her description that she was 12.

Mr Scott said: “On August 26 ‘Ella’ asked him whether he would pick her up and it ended when his proposal and her acceptance that he would bring the company van so that they could enjoy intimacy and privacy.

“That day arrangements were made to meet up in a car park in Grays at 3pm.

“In fact, when he got to the car park’s fourth floor he was met by a police detective constable. She arrested him. She recovered an iPhone where much of the conversation had taken place.”

Mitigation for Vasile said he had joined the dating app with the purpose of meeting an adult woman between the ages of 25 and 55.

The court heard that Vasile was “unsure himself” about what would have happened had a 12 year old girl showed up on that day.

Vasile was said to be aware of how this offending affects children and that conversations of these types can be “devastating” for them.

Mitigation added that despite this, there was never a risk of harm coming to a child due to the profile being an undercover officer.

Judge Ian Graham gave Vasile a two year community order for attempting to facilitate or arrange a child sex offence, which Vasile had previously admitted.

The order includes 150 hours of unpaid work, and 60 days or rehabilitation activity.