A TIDWORTH soldier tried to meet a child for sex in Andover after sending explicit internet messages from his barracks.

Samuel Dallow, 25, believed he was contacting a girl of 14.

But when he went to meet the child at Andover train station on April 11 he was confronted by vigilante paedophile-hunter Shane Brannigan.

Mr Brannigan challenged Dallow about his intentions before turning him in to the police.

The encounter was filmed and the video was streamed live on social media. The footage and records of their online conversations were then given to Hampshire Police.

Dallow, originally from Birmingham, admitted attempting to meet a teenage girl with the intention of committing sexual assault against a child at Winchester Crown Court on Wednesday.

The vigilantes say they are helping budget-stretched police forces.

Mr Brannigan told the BBC: “Crying they’ve got no money, no resources, no funding, there isn’t enough people in the team to do this sort of thing.

“Leave it to people like me who actually care about the investigation.”

But Chief Constable Simon Bailey, national head of child abuse investigations, told the BBC: “Revealing the identity of suspected paedophiles gives the suspect the opportunity to destroy evidence before the police can investigate them.”

He also warned that wrongly accusing people on social media could lead the public to assume they were guilty.

Dallow, of 6th Battalion The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, will be sentenced on June 8. Judge Keith Cutler released him on bail but warned him he may face time in prison.