A child groomer who sparked a brawl after he was confronted by self-styled "paedophile hunters" at one of Britain's largest shopping centres has been jailed.

Mirza Beg, 29, turned up with condoms at the Bluewater Shopping Centre in Greenhithe, near Dartford, Kent, believing he was meeting a 14-year-old girl.

But instead he fell into a trap laid by a vigilante paedophile group called "The Hunted One" which streamed the sting on Facebook Live and gained around 247,000 views.

The ambush escalated into violence and led to an attack on Beg, who in the run-up to the meet-up had sent sexual messages to the "girl" via social media including WhatsApp.

In the footage, Beg could be seen being kicked and punched as several people, including security guards, stepped in to try to remonstrate with his attackers.

Prosecutor Tom Dunn said Beg initially used a WAP log messenger account to make contact with who he thought was a teenage girl called Scarlett, and he claimed he was aged 22.

Mr Dunn said: "Unknown to Mr Beg, this was not a real account and was in fact a decoy account operated by a man called Andy Bradstock who ran a group called 'The Hunted One', which essentially aims to stop online abuse of children."

Mr Beg went on to ask the "girl" to move their contact onto WhatsApp and Facebook, and he "persistently" talked about meeting up with her.

Mr Dunn said: "He sent her pictures of him working in a Shisha bar. He told her that he loved her and he suggested that they meet at the Bluewater Marks and Spencer."

Beg told the "girl" she was now his girlfriend, and when she asked whether he minded that she was only aged 14, he added: "Age doesn't matter."

In the messages, Mr Dunn said Beg also told her he would "teach" her about sex before suggesting to her that they meet at Bluewater on April 16.

As he travelled to the shopping centre, Beg gave a "running commentary" of his bus journey to the "girl" via WhatsApp, Mr Dunn added.

"He arrived at the bus stop of Marks and Spencer at Bluewater where he was confronted by Andy Bradstock and other members of this group," Mr Dunn went on.

"The encounter was filmed and it appears streamed through Facebook."

After revealing he had brought condoms with him, Beg said he was sorry.

Mr Dunn said: "Unfortunately it appears that a separate group had also attended and there was a violent exchange between at least two of that group and this defendant.

"It's clear that Mr Bradstock and those with him and those at Bluewater were trying to stop the violence on Mr Beg."

Beg, of no fixed address, admitted arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence when he appeared in court in May.

Sentencing him to 40 months in jail on Friday at Maidstone Crown Court, Judge David Griffith-Jones said Beg clearly had a sexual interest in children.

The judge made him the subject of a sexual harm prevention order and barred him from working with children.

Dean George, defending, said in mitigation that Beg was of previous good character and there was no history of similar behaviour.

Mr George said some of Beg's family had deserted him, and that he had expressed remorse at the scene.

And he went on: "Having seen it on the news, the cultural shock is something that is likely to leave him fairly isolated from his family, in addition to the isolation he is likely to face in prison."

The clash involving Beg and other recent stings led Kent Police to voice concern about self-styled "paedophile hunters" amid fears they could interfere in their work and potentially entrap innocent people.

The force said it had "significant concerns about people taking the law into their own hands" and the methods used following stings by vigilante groups.

And officers publicly urged anyone with evidence of online grooming or who knows a suspect is planning to meet a potential victim to contact them instead.

In the wake of the criticism, "The Hunted One" posted a statement saying it would no longer broadcast ambushes of suspects live online.