A council fraud investigator who was caught trying to meet a 14-year-old boy in a police sting has been jailed for 15 months.

Paul Taylor, of Henlow, Bedfordshire, drove his BMW to a park in Stevenage to meet a schoolboy called James for sex

The 48-year-old had previously been chatting to the boy on the gay dating site Grindr, but did not realise that “James” was actually an undercover police officer.

When Taylor pulled up in Fairlands Park, police were lying in wait to arrest him.

A search of his car revealed condoms, lubrication, wipes, Vaseline and string tied as a lasso.

On Friday, Taylor appeared at Luton Crown Court for sentencing having been found guilty of attempting to meet a child aged under 16 for sex.

The court heard it was in January of this year that Taylor began chatting to a person he believed was a 14-year-old boy on Grindr, a dating app widely used by the gay community.

Taylor - who works in Stevenage but has previously carried out fraud investigation work for Hertsmere Borough Council and Hertfordshire County Council on behalf of the Shared Anti-Fraud Service - asked for photos, and the conversation swiftly moved to one of a sexual nature.

When James told him he said he was going to football, Taylor told him he had a fantasy about lads in football kit.

James told him his football kit was red and black with red socks, to which Taylor replied "oh yum".

The undercover officer, who gave evidence to the jury behind a screen, said that while posing as James, he talked about his grandmother, grandmother and school to reiterate the message that he was 14.

The court was told how Taylor tried to lie his way out of trouble, telling police he did not believe the person he was going to meet was 14.

He said he believed he was the victim of a hoax, and was going to meet the faker to warn him about his behaviour.

He told the police that, had the person he met been 14, he would have left.

Barrister Pamela Brain told the court that Taylor had lost his job, his car, and had put his home up for sale because he was now unable to afford the mortgage repayments.

Jailing Taylor for 15 months, Judge Nigel Lithman told him: "I accept you have bought calamity down upon your head."