A former school crossing patrol man convicted of attempted sexual communication with what he thought were two 13 year-old girls was snared by so-called paedophile hunting groups, a court has heard.
Patrick McGirr (40), with an address listed as Curran Road in Larne, appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court yesterday for sentencing.
The court heard he continues to deny the charges and claims he was "hacked".
At an earlier hearing he was convicted of two charges of trying to communicate with a child aged under 16 "for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification" on dates between August and September 2018.
A prosecution lawyer said two groups had adults acting as "decoys" in an online chatroom and when they passed their information to police the defendant was arrested.
McGirr had engaged in "highly sexual" conversations on an app and sent intimate pictures of his body to what he thought were two 13 year old girls, and asked them to send him pictures.
Whenever his request was not responded to, the defendant became "emotionally manipulative" saying that he felt like "s***" and he "wanted to kill himself".
He also called one of the decoys a "chicken s*** coward".
The prosecutor said the defendant "continues to deny" the offences.
Defence barrister Neil Moore said until the conviction the defendant had been a "man of impeccable character". As a result of the case his marriage had broken up and given the "nature of the charges" his family had "turned their backs on him".
The defence lawyer said McGirr believed he "had been some way hacked".
As he was denying his guilt the Probation Service were "unable to offer him assistance," Mr Moore said.
The court heard the defendant had already served three months on remand in connection with the charges which was the equivalent to the maximum sentence in the magistrates court for the matter of six months.
District Judge Nigel Broderick adjourned sentencing to later this month to find out if Probation would be able to work with McGirr despite him still denying the offence.