A PAEDOPHILE who wanted to use McDonald's as a place to meet an underage boy for sex has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Paul Warren set up the meeting via an online app with what he believed to be a 14-year-old boy, a court heard.

When the 53-year-old North Yorkshire man went to the fast food takeaway's car park, instead of a boy he found police from a specialist squad waiting for him and he was arrested.

Warren, of Harrogate, pleaded guilty to arranging to commit a child sex offence.

He was given a 16-month prison sentence suspended for two years and put on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years at Teesside Crown Court.

After the hearing, Detective Constable Kerri Jones, of North Yorkshire Police’s online abuse team, said: “Warren’s intentions towards children were distressingly clear.

“He suggested a sexual encounter within minutes of starting a conversation and it was obvious from his actions that he had every intention of meeting a teenage boy so he could sexually abuse him.

“The online abuse team works proactively and sometimes covertly to identify those who pose a risk to children. And if we hadn’t apprehended Warren during this operation, it’s possible he could have engaged with a real child and carried out his plan.

"It’s reassuring to know one more sexual predator has been brought before the courts and dealt with.”

Police said the person at the other end of the online conversation was not a boy but a covert investigator from Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit as part of an operation to tackle child abuse.

Within minutes of starting the conversation, Warren suggested meeting in McDonald’s and that they would drive to a car park where they would engage in sexual activity.

An hour later, he arrived at his proposed meeting place, where he was immediately arrested by police. His car was located nearby.