A paedophile who preyed on schoolgirls was caught by his ex-girlfriend when she set up a fake Snapchat profile to trap him.
Adam Simmons, 27, was in a relationship with Louisa Lanza, 27, when she became suspicious after he started hiding his phone.
When she found it, she discovered he had sent sexual messages to underage girls. She said she contacted police but no action was taken.
Simmons was finally caught when Lanza set up a fake Snapchat profile posing as a 12-year-old girl called Anya.
She began messaging Simmons, who claimed he was 17, asked her for sex, and begged her to send him explicit pictures.
Lanza again reported Simmons to police again and he was arrested in 2018.
When he was questioned by police he claimed he suffered from “erectile dysfunction”.
However, the court heard this claim was disproved when he sent ‘Anya’ a picture of his genitals.
Simmons admitted five charges of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and distributing an indecent image of a child.
Simmons, of Leamington Spa, Warks., was sentenced to 14 months in prison suspended for two years and ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years. However, the sentencing judge condemned the prosecution for not bringing more serious charges.
Judge Sylvia de Bertodano said: “Why was it not charged as attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity? It makes a huge difference to sentencing.
“This appears to be inciting these children to engage in sexual activity. Whether or not they existed is irrelevant for this purpose.
“It seems there has been a massively generous charging decision."
During the sentencing hearing at Warwick Crown Court, Judge de Bertodano addressed Simmons directly. She said: "These are matters that are very serious indeed. You know the view I take of that."
“You are very fortunate, first that you have not been charged with the more serious offences, and second that there is no evidence whether these were real children.
“The prosecution cannot prove that they are, but that is what you thought when you were contacting them.
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“You have put yourself in huge danger of going to prison, but I am not going to send you to prison today.”
The court heard Simmons, who acts on stage and in minor local productions, had sent a “voluminous” number of disturbing messages to young girls.
John O’Higgins, prosecuting, said: “In October that year [Lanza] noticed a new name had appeared on her Snapchat account, and decided to check whether it was Simmons, so created one herself using the name Anya.
“The profile gave Anya’s age as 12 but that did not seem to bother him.”
O’Higgins said Simmons gave his name as Adam, claimed to be 17, and asked if they could have sex.
He also asked her to touch herself and send him pictures so he could “make sure she was doing it right”.
Lanza again reported it to Warwickshire Police who arrested Simmons and seized his laptop and phone.
When he was questioned he said he had been in a relationship with an actress who found out about his sexual chat with other females.
He claimed he was attracted to women aged 16-22 and had ended the chat when he found they were younger.
O’Higgins said police found “voluminous” sexually-explicit chats Simmons had had with other girls.
They included discussions about oral sex with two girls aged 12 and 13 from America and a request to a 15-year-old Swedish girl to have items available so she could penetrate herself.
Yahoo News UK contacted Warwickshire Police regarding the allegation that initial complaints were not investigated, but had not received a response at the time of publishing.