A "manipulative" sex offender sent sexual messages to what he believed to be a 12-year-old - claiming he was her boyfriend and asking her to meet him in a supermarket car park.

Manoj Kumar, 26, told the fictional girl she was ‘cute’, ‘sweet’ and ‘gorgeous’ before using more graphic terms and trying to incite her into sexual activity.

Unaware he was actually talking to undercover police officers, Kumar asked the girl to keep their conversations to herself and delete all of their messages.

On February 17, 2021, Kumar, then aged 24, arranged to meet the girl at Sainsbury's car park in Victor Street but was met by officers instead who arrested him and took him into custody.

Kumar, of Avenue Road, Southampton was found to have been engaging in explicit, sexual conversation with officers via KIK Messenger, Whatsapp and Telegram on a number of occasions in 2021.

Following an investigation which involved the analysis of three mobile phones, a tablet and a laptop, Kumar was charged with attempting to cause or incite a female under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity involving penetration and arranging or facilitating commission of a child sex offence.

He pleaded not guilty to the offences, however a jury found him guilty following a trial in December.

He has now been jailed for seven and a half years and will be subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for ten years.

Police Constable Sarah Tickner, of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Constabulary’s Internet Child Abuse Team, said: “Manoj Kumar is a manipulative sexual offender whose predatory behaviour is extremely concerning.

“Our specially trained officers are experienced in investigating these types of offences and will continue to work hard disrupting offenders like Kumar, before they can cause harm to a real child.

“Young people have such easy access to the internet and mobile phones today, so it is more important than ever that parents stay vigilant and educate their children about staying safe online.

“We will continue our work protecting vulnerable people, including young children, against possible sexual exploitation and I hope that this sentence shows that we are always investigating and disrupting those who intend to cause harm to innocent young victims.

“I also hope this sentence will alert others, especially the parents of young children, to the dangers of the digital world and also encourage any victims of child sexual abuse to come forward and speak to us, no matter when it happened.

 “We would encourage anyone who has been a victim of child sexual abuse to contact police on 101 where you can speak with our specialist officers in confidence.”