A FORMER Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) safety officer has been jailed after admitting sexual offences against children.

Darren Hunt was jailed for 22 months after admitting offering a paedophile Amazon vouchers in exchange for access to a one-year-old.

The 50-year-old was charged following an investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) after Twitter raised an alert.

He was jailed at Stafford Crown Court on Monday, along with Henry Ogden, from Cumbria, who received 31 months after admitting five charges of publishing obscene material.

The court heard Hunt was a “respectable” family man, married for over two decades, and a long-serving member of the fire service support staff.

But he began communicating with Ogden in March last year, and during conversations over a three-month period, he asked Ogden for access to a toddler.

Ogden, a father of a young child, said he could not arrange that but offered a meeting with a one-year-old baby instead, messages found by police revealed.

Hunt then asked if the mother would be present, and if Amazon vouchers were a suitable way of paying Ogden.

More than 60 images of abused children were later found on Hunt’s phone and computer by police – the youngest child being just three months old.

Hunt, of Blair Close, Worcester, pleaded guilty to three charges of making or possessing indecent images of children and a charge of arranging, facilitating and commissioning a child sexual offence.

Sentencing him, Judge Michael Chambers QC said: “If there’s ever a case which is truly appalling, this is it. These are real children being exploited by evil men.”

Lawyers defending Hunt said he had no intention of meeting the baby, and said he was “embarrassed” about what he did.

A HWFRS spokesman said: “HWFRS is aware of the proceedings against Darren Hunt, which are unrelated to his previous employment with the service, and through which he had no contact with children.

"When HWFRS was made aware of the allegations he was suspended, and his employment was subsequently terminated in September 2018 as a result of the charges against him.”