A PERSISTENT child groomer who drove more than 100 miles to meet what he thought was an eight-year-old girl for sex at a Sutton Scotney service station has been jailed for eight years.

Lance Baynes travelled from his home in Cedar Close, Walsall, to the services on the A34 on August 21 this year after he had been talking to a man called Alex Humphrey, who was actually an undercover officer, on the messaging service Kik about sleeping with his niece.

Richard Onslow, prosecuting, told Winchester Crown Court today (Tuesday) the 48-year-old said he previously been with a 14-year-old girl and was “expressing a desire, as he did to other Kik users, for a younger girl”.

“Alex replied that he was active with his niece aged eight. He [Baynes] asked whether there were any pictures of her and asked whether Alex ever shared her.”

The court was told that Baynes described what he would like to do with the girl, and then asked for advice as he had “never done one so young, was a little bit scared but also really excited”.

“He was advised to bring a treat for her and then she would be anyone's,” Mr Onslow said.

When he arrived at the service station he was immediately arrested and found with a small teddy, three bags of sweets and three Monster energy drinks.

In a search of the paedophile’s red Honda Civic a golf bag full of sex toys and restraints was discovered, which he later denied was for use on the child but were for use between two adults.

Officers searched his mobile, which was described as a “dirty phone”, where a substantial amount of indecent images of children were found, along with conversations with "like-minded individuals".

A total of 1,430 indecent images of children of categories A, B and C were made by Baynes between January 30 and August 22 this year, along with distributing 20 indecent images of children between June 15 and August 21, 2020.

The groomer had also talked to a 13-year-old girl on June 15 for the purposes of sexual gratification and asked for pictures of her.

Mr Onslow said: “This defendant exhibited an active, consistent, persistent and determined interest in sexual activity with young girls.”

In mitigation, John Simmons recalled a line from Baynes’ pre-sentence report: “The shame and embarrassment of such offences and realisation of these types of offences is something that makes people hold back.”

Baynes pleaded guilty at earlier hearing to arranging to meet a child for sexual activity, communicating with a child for sexual gratification and contacting others on social media for indecent images of children.

He also pleaded guilty to making and distributing indecent images of children and possessing extreme pornographic images.

No charges have been brought regarding Baynes' comment about being with a 14-year-old.

In sentencing, Judge Keith Cutler QC had on his screen an image of the cuddly toy Baynes was to give to his victim.

He said: “That stuffed toy, the little cuddly stuffed toy that you were hoping to give to that eight-year-old girl then commit your perverted actions upon her.

“You genuinely expected to have penetrative sex with this eight-year-old girl, fortunately she didn’t exist but that brought your criminality out into the open.”

Baynes was jailed for eight years, but he must spend a further four on licence “for the protection of the public”.