A “paedophile hunter” took a wheel off a woman’s car in the early hours and replaced it with a space-saver wheel so he could journey 360 miles to Cornwall in search of perverts, a court has been told.

It happened at St Asaph, Denbighshire, at 2am on July 10 after a suspicious member of the public reported seeing a man removing items from a car boot.

When police arrived Michael Adamson, 35, was wearing gloves and a parked car alongside had a wheel missing, prosecutor James Neary told magistrates at Llandudno.

The woman’s wheel was in the back of Adamson’s car and a space-saver wheel on the woman’s, but without nuts to secure it.

“When interviewed the defendant said he was part of a vigilante group hunting paedophiles and needed to get to Cornwall,” declared Mr Neary .

Defending, solicitor Gwyndaf Pari said: “This was a somewhat bizarre set of circumstances,” with someone taking a wheel to replace a punctured wheel and replacing it with a space-saver.

Adamson claimed to be involved with a group of three or four people seeking to identify and prosecute those involved in the exploitation of children and wished to get to Cornwall with information.

“He decided his priority was to get there,” added Mr Pari . “It took over his common sense and was a one-off.”

Mr Pari said Adamson had moved from Liverpool to Rhyl “trying to sort his life out”.

Adamson, of Rhyl, who appeared in court wearing dark shorts and T-shirt, was said to have a list of previous offences. He stated he was unemployed and in the process of applying for benefits.

Adamson pleaded guilty to the theft of a wheel and tyre belonging to Tesni Jones. He was fined £120 with £117 costs and he must pay £50 compensation to the woman victim – a total of £287.