A Leeds student who told a 13-year-old girl he would meet her for sex was caught after the youngster's mum installed recording equipment on her mobile phone.
Nathan Evans was recorded as he told the young victim he would travel from West Yorkshire to her home in Kent to have sex with her.
During the conversation Evans made graphic sexual references and discussed exchanging explicit photograph with the schoolgirl.
Leeds Crown Court heard the offence came to light when the girl's mum became concerned for her safety.
Katherine Robinson, prosecuting, said the mum installed recording software on her daughter's mobile phone.
Evans was recorded offering to meet the youngster for sex during a conversation in January 2016.
Miss Robinson said the defendant was a student in Leeds but was arrested from his home in Cheshire.
His mobile phone was seized and found to contain 26 indecent images of children.
Evans, now aged 23, was interviewed and accepted making the call but stated that he could not remember speaking to the girl.
The prosecutor said: "He said it was all fantasy and he had no intention of following through with his words."
He refused to comment on the images found on his mobile phone.
Evans, of Gairloch Close, Warrington, pleaded guilty to one count of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and two counts of making an indecent image of a child.
Eddison Flint, mitigating, said Evans was 19 at the time of the offences, had no previous convictions and had not offended in the three-and-a-half years since he was arrested.
Mr Flint said Evans struggled with anxiety and depression and it had caused him to leave his job.
He added that Evans had engaged in counselling soon after his arrest to address his offending.
Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said: "For reasons I do not particularly understand, I am dealing with you three-and-a-half years after your arrest.
"Your risk of re-offending is low. The best way to protect the public is to make a a community order on each offence."
Evans was made the subject of a two-year community order, during which he must complete a programme designed to address his offending.
He must also take part in a 30-day rehabilitation activity requirement programme.