A 'HIGH-RISK' sex offender who was caught in a police sting when he believed he was engaging in sexual communications with a 12-year-old girl has been jailed.

Carl Richard Newton Cracknell, aged 36, thought he was messaging a girl named Sophie from Worcester. However, he was actually talking to a police officer posing as a young schoolgirl.

Cracknell was sentenced at Salisbury Crown Court on Friday, November 26, after he pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, one count of attempting to cause a female aged 13 or under to engage in a sexual activity and one count of breaching a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO).

The order means a person is prohibited from contacting or speaking to children under the age of 16 unless they have consent from their parents or guardian, and can't be in public places where children are likely to be.

All the offences took place in Dorchester between January 13 and February 25 this year.

Prosecuting, Timothy Akers, told Salisbury Crown Court that Cracknell, of HM Prison Winchester, started talking to the decoy profile on the messaging app Kik.

Mr Akers said that 'Sophie' told Cracknell she was 12 years old and Cracknell told her he was a 35-year-old man from Dorset.

Mr Akers read out the sexual nature of Cracknell's comments to Sophie to the court which said he wanted to kiss her, touch her and get in the shower with her and asked her questions like, 'what would you do if my hand was inside your shorts?'.

The defendant would tell Sophie that he really did love her and instructed her on how to masturbate, saying that she would 'enjoy it'.

Mr Akers said that on March 19 officers from Dorset Police attended the defendants address and took his Huawei mobile phone. In interview Cracknell said he was 'annoyed' at what he had done, saying: "I thought I had changed."

When he was told the child he had spoken to was an undercover police officer it was said that Cracknell 'gasped' and 'appeared relieved'.

He admitted to the offences and to deleting the Kik messenger app off of his phone, something he is prohibited from doing under his SHPO.

Defending, Francisca Da Costa, said Cracknell suffered PTSD and depression and was sexually assaulted as a child by his stepfather at the age of five to nine years old.

She said: "He found lockdown particularly challenging.

"His family have disowned him and haven't spoken to him for some time.

"He understands that these are very serious offences and recognises that if she were a real life young woman she would have been placed in great danger."

Judge Robert Pawson said: "You have a very worrying criminal history going back to 2016 when you were first found with indecent images of children."

He said that since then he had repeatedly breached his SHPO and been in court for similar offences.

Judge Pawson said: "You groomed your intended victim and sought to build her trust.

"Your previous convictions show a clear sexual interest in children."

The judge read out a pre-sentence report which determined that Cracknell was at high risk of causing serious harm to female children.

Cracknell was given an nine-year sentence, comprising of a four-year custodial sentence and five year extension. The judge also ordered the forfeiture and destruction of Cracknell's mobile phone.