An innocent dad was wrongly arrested and held in a police cell over Christmas after his ID was stolen by a paedophile so he could groom underage girls.
The "younger and more attractive" father suffered the nightmare arrest after his photograph and name were taken from a dating site by Stephen Price.
Price, 53, then used the fake identity to send explicit sexual images to a 14-year-old girl called ‘Talia’ – which was in fact a trap set by a paedophile hunting group.
Cardiff Crown Court heard the innocent unsuspecting dad was trapped by the paedophile hunters before being arrested and put in police cells for 36 hours over the Christmas period before being released on bail.
Prosecutor Christopher Rees said: “He was completely unaware his photo was being used by Price, who was intent on grooming underage girls.
"The man whose picture Price was using was visited at his home by four large men just before Christmas.
"They accused him in front of his elderly mother of being a paedophile. He was bombarded with abuse on social media.
"He had no idea what these men were talking about and contacted the police himself.”
Rees added: "The man became a pariah in the local area. There was significant deterioration in his mental health.
"He was not exonerated until the arrest of Price in February.”
Price, of Barry, South Wales, admitted attempting sexual communication with a child, attempting to cause a child to watch sexual activity, attempting to engage in sexual activity with a child and attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity.
Clare Wilks, defending, said: "Mr Price accepts creating a fake profile and chose the picture of a younger and more attractive man.
"He had no idea that man would be tracked in the way he was.
"This, perhaps, is the danger of paedophile hunter groups acting on information that is not complete.”
Judge Nicola Jones added: “The paedophile hunters – if I can use that awful expression – realised they had made an enormous mistake.”
Father-of-three Price was jailed for three years and made subject of an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order.
He was also ordered to register as a sex offender indefinitely.