A manipulative paedophile has been jailed for 26 months after being caught by paedophile hunters on Facebook for the third time.

Paul Rickson had tried to meet a girl who he thought was 12 on October 7 last year in Reading, Berkshire, a court heard.

The 45-year-old was instead greeted by members of the paedophile hunting group 'Confronted and Caught,' who filmed the encounter.

Jane Davies, prosecuting, said: "The defendant used his own profile and account on Facebook to make contact with four females which he believed were aged 12 to 14.

"During the contact he made requests for sexual acts and images and supplied his own telephone number, his own address.

"The most serious of the offending is he then arranged to meet one of the girls."

Police, who arrived to arrest Rickson after the sting, were provided with evidence that Rickson had also been speaking with two other social media accounts which he thought were being operated by girls aged 14 and 12 between September 27 and October 7. 

The accounts were actually being operated by adults from the paedophile hunting group, prosecutors said.

It was the third time Rickson, who had three convictions for 10 offences, had been foiled in his attempts to meet children by paedophile hunter groups, Reading Crown Court heard.

Rickson was first hauled to court on two counts of attempting to incite a child under 16 into sexual activity on September 30 2016, after having been stung. 

He was slapped with a community order and a five-year sexual harm prevention order (SHPO).

Three years later, on August 22 2019, Rickson was back at court on three counts of breaching his SHPO and three counts of attempting to incident a child under 13 into sexual activity. 

Judge Sarah Campbell said that offence "involved him giving his care workers the slip to go to the local library to contact girls." Following that case, Rickson was jailed for 16 months. 

Davies said his latest offences "represents an escalation in his risk to children," when the defendant appeared for sentence on Tuesday.

Janick Fielding, defending, said: "I met the defendant today and he is clearly vulnerable, he is clearly - meaning no disrespect to him - very simple.

"His ability to strike up an age appropriate relationship is a serious hurdle for him. He wants to have a girlfriend, he wants to be in a relationship but communication with those of his age is something he obviously finds extremely difficult."

Rickson, of Woodhurst Lane, Wokingham, admitted two offences of sexual communication with children, one offence of attempting to meet a child after grooming and one offence of a breach of a SHPO.

Judge Campbell, sentencing, said: "You appear to not understand that sex with children is morally wrong and abusive. 

"You do not appear to grasp the seriousness of the offences or the potential harm. That, in my view, increases the seriousness of the risk you pose."

The judge made a finding that Rickson was dangerous and so sentenced him to 26 months, of which he would need to serve two thirds before being considered for parole. He will serve an extended licence periods of four years.