A GRANDAD who tried to persuade underage girls to perform sex acts on themselves has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Jonathan Sugden, 60, used Kik social media to contact a 12-year-old girl’s profile and then a 13-year-old girl’s profile, said Jordan Parkinson, prosecuting, at York Crown Court.

He told the second profile he liked “skinny good girls” and “good girls who can be naughty”.

He told each to watch the Sex Education television series and what he would like them to do to themselves, urged them to be “secret girls” and delete the chats from their phones. He also told one he was naked as he typed.

But both profiles were run by undercover police officers and not the underage girls he believed he was chatting with, and Sugden was arrested.

Sugden, of Willow Rise, Thorpe Willoughby, pleaded guilty to two charges of attempted sexual communication and two of attempting to incite an underage girl to engage in sexual activity. He had no previous convictions.

Defence barrister Chris Dunn said: “He has thrown himself into trying to work out how this offending occurred. He is still trying to get to grips with what happened.”

The offending had been for a matter of weeks only, the court heard.

Suspending the prison sentence would protect the public better than locking Sugden up because it would enable probation officers to work with Sugden and rehabilitate him, said Mr Dunn.

Judge Simon Hickey told Sugden the fact that he had told both profiles to delete the chats showed the grandfather knew what he was doing was wrong.

“You appeared to have stopped of your instigation,” he said.

Sugden was the full-time carer of his wife for 32 years, who had a long-term brain condition and depended on him and his business. Sugden’s mother-in-law also needed his help to live independently.

The judge suspended a two-year prison sentence on condition Sugden does 50 days’ rehabilitative activities and 150 hours’ unpaid work. Sugden was also put on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years and made subject to a 10-year sexual harm prevention order aimed at enabling police to monitor him and his online activities and protect children.

Ms Parkinson said Sugden chatted with the 12-year-old girl’s profile from November 2020 to March 26, 2021, and the 13-year-old girl’s profile from April 1 to April 28, 2021.

Most of the chat was non-sexual.

Mr Dunn said since his arrest, Sugden had worked with Safer Lives sex offender rehabilitation agency. He had an “exemplary character” before his guilty pleas.