AN AMESBURY MoD scientist who worked at a top secret military laboratory sent 'sordid filth' to a 14-year-old girl he met online – who turned out to be a fake teenager created by a group of paedophile hunters, a court heard.

'Intelligent and clever' Alexander Aplin, who has now resigned as a physics expert at Porton Down following the incident, became 'obsessed and infatuated' with the fictional girl, sending her Whatsapp messages asking her to 'flash' and videos about masturbation and French kissing.

The 52-year-old was caught trying to meet the 'teenager' outside a shopping centre last year while carrying a bag of red lace thongs, condoms and lubricant.

But it turned out he had actually been talking to a member of vigilante group Justice for the Innocent who confronted him after he said he wanted to take her 'on a day trip to Stonehenge.'

Salisbury Journal:

Aplin specialised in lasers at Porton Down for the MoD for more than 30 years but has since resigned following his arrest in October last year.

On November 1, a judge at Salisbury Crown Court handed the paedophile a 16 month suspended sentence that would remain in place for two years.

Aplin, of Amesbury, originally got in touch with the 'girl' on the Nearby chat app in October last year before starting to communicate with her via Whatsapp.

Prosecutor Colin Meekes said: "It is clear this is an older man who is obsessed and infatuated by the 'girl' he thought he was talking to.

"He called her darling and the conversations they have usually opened with the phrase 'hello darling'."

Mr Meekes said the text messages, which were sent between October 6 to 27 last year, were 'fairly run of the mill but extremely sordid filth'.

He added: "It's clear from the conversations that he is fantasising about her wearing thongs and stockings and he asks her to 'flash' while wearing stockings.

"He wanted to teach her to French kiss. When he was interviewed by police he had condoms and lubricant in his rucksack as well as the lingerie he had just brought.

"He also asks her if she masturbates and sends her a video showing her how it is done."

Aplin pleaded guilty to attempting to incite a girl aged 13 or over to engage in penetrative sexual activity and attempting to meet a girl under 16 following grooming. He also pleaded guilty to attempting to send sexual communications to a child.

Judge Richard Parkes QC said: "How any 52-year-old man could imagine a 14-year-old girl would be interested in him is beyond me."

Salisbury Journal:

He added: "He has children, and a wife with whom he has a joint mortgage and I understand he is concerned about that but it might have been better if he had thought about that a little earlier."

Sentencing Aplin he said: "You engaged in conversations with someone you believed to be a child of 14. Your behaviour was utterly outrageous.

"Children must not be approached by adults for the purpose of sexual activity.

"You are an intelligent and clever man who knows the damage that you could have caused to a child."

In a police statement made after his arrest Aplin said he found the attention 'exciting' and would try and contact the 'girl' whenever he could.

Despite being married and having two children, one of whom was the same age as the girl he was trying to meet, Aplin told police there was a chance he would have had sex with the girl if she existed.

In a video posted online by the vigilante group, Aplin claimed the girl was 18 and smirked when confronted, saying: “People say all sorts of things online, and you’re making out she doesn’t exist.”

Salisbury Journal:

Defending, Robin Griffiths said: "He is a hard working man and has stopped using messenger applications since his arrest.

"He was more concerned for his wife and his children than he was for himself.

"He has been in contact with the Lucy Faithful Foundation and has already completed online rehabilitative work."

Porton Down, the base where Aplin worked, is the headquarters for the MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, the MoD’s military research centre.

The base played a major role in the investigation over the Novichok attack in Salisbury last year after scientists there proved the substance was used by Russian hitmen to try to kill former double agent Sergei Skripal, 68, and his daughter Yulia, 33.

Aplin was also order to carry out 15 rehabilitation days, complete 150 hours of unpaid work and is subject to a ten year sexual harm prevention order.