A Highbridge man who attempted to travel from Somerset to Kent to sexually abuse an eight year-old girl has been sentenced to 10 years in jail.

David Collins, 51, from Highbridge exchanged various messages with two women in which he described how he wanted to carry out sexual acts on their daughter – unaware that he was communicating with undercover police officers.

On the morning of 17th April Collins attempted to hitch-hike his way to Maidstone in Kent to meet the women.

However, he sent a text message to one of the women stating that he was having difficulty hitching lifts and had only managed to travel 100 miles in the 17 hours since he had left his house.

Detectives from Kent Police’s paedophile online investigation team arrested Collins on the slip road of a motorway.

In a police interview, Collins claimed that he wouldn’t have actually gone through with the act, and if the women were really going to let him then he was going to alert the appropriate authorities.

He added that the only type of relationship he wanted to have with the girl was an “uncle type relationship”.

Collins was later charged with arranging the commission of a child sexual offence and arranging the involvement in pornography of a child under the age of 13.

Following a trial at Maidstone Crown Court, Collins was found guilty of both offences and has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

He has also been given an extended licence period of two years. A six-year sentence for arranging child pornography will run concurrently to his 10-year sentence.

Detective Constable Mikaela Leahy from Kent Police said: “David Collins made it quite clear that he was absolutely determined to commit very serious sexual offences against children in Kent.”

“It was only when faced with the consequences of his actions, that he claimed that the detailed plans and effort that he made was only pretend. I am pleased that through the good work of the team we were able to ensure that no child was ever harmed by Collins, and that he now faces the consequences of his abhorrent desires.”

“People must understand that Kent Police will use imagination and the full extent of the legal framework to identify and bring to justice such people in our efforts to protect the most vulnerable in society.”