Man, 92, jailed for grooming after online vigilantes set up meeting

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A 92-year-old man has been jailed for 18 months after online vigilantes caught him attempting to meet an 11-year-old for sex.

Ivor Gifford sent explicit messages to two fake profiles, purporting to be a 12-year-old girl called Jodie and an 11-year-old named Jessie.

Newport Crown Court heard the pensioner was "well-versed" in chatrooms, using emojis and language to attract and groom young girls.

He was caught by a group called The Hunted One after arranging to meet Jessie at Llanhilleth, near his home in Abertillery, south Wales.

Gifford sent both Jodie and Jessie an explicit image, asking the girl he believed to be 11 to "dress sexy" when she visited to "tempt" him.

A jury convicted him of two charges of attempting to incite a child under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity and attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.

Judge Daniel Williams jailed former businessman Gifford, who sat next to his barrister in a wheelchair for proceedings, for 18 months.

"You were on the internet looking for young girls and looking for young girls to engage in sexual activity," the judge told Gifford.

"You were well-versed in using chat sites and very adept at using language and emojis to keep what you believed to be young girls engaged in conversations with you.

"You intended to send them images of your penis. The communications went on for some time.

"You are 92 years of age. That age is reflected in your physical health, which is far from good, but you are mentally well and mentally able to communicate with young girls."

The judge said Gifford exchanged messages with Jodie, who he believed to be 12, on social messaging site Waplog between September 26 and December 2 last year.

"Yours were often sexual in nature - you telling Jodie that she was gorgeous, asking if she liked making love, asking specifically 'do you want sex, love?'," the judge told Gifford.

"You later said 'I feel I want to have sex with you but keep it a secret'. You asked her to send nude photographs."

When Jodie told Gifford her camera was broken, he graphically described sexual intercourse and told her how to perform a sexual act, the court heard.

"You carried on asking for what you referred to as a 'naughty photo'," the judge said. "You said you would love to have her at your house for the day."

The second fake Waplog profile, contacted by Gifford between October 30 and December 3, purported to be an 11-year-old girl named Jessie.

"You asked her if she was looking for sex," the judge told Gifford. "You said how your messaging could lead to you taking her virginity.

"You arranged for Jessie to travel to Llanhilleth where you would meet her.

"You told her you would like her to be your secret lover. In relation to that meeting, you asked this 11-year-old girl to dress sexy for you to tempt you."

Gifford, who had no previous convictions, sent an explicit image to the profile and travelled by taxi to meet Jessie from the station.

When he arrived, he realised he had been set up and was confronted by members of The Hunted One, before being arrested.

Representing Gifford, Jeffrey Jones said his client had suffered a heart attack and a stroke, and had "very limited" mobility.

"He is very advanced in life," Mr Jones said. "He is in a state of shock at the publicity of the matter and the loss of his good name.

"He utters that the last thing he wants to do is bother on the internet again."

Mr Jones said Gifford has been "ostracised" from family and friends since being taken into custody following his arrest in December.

Detective Constable Mark Price, of Gwent Police, said: "Throughout this trial, Ivor Gifford has been shown to be an online groomer and the sentence passed by the courts today reflects how seriously Gwent Police and the criminal justice system take these offences.

"We rely on the assistance of the public in preventing and detecting crime. Working closely with communities is a vital way in which we gain information and their active engagement in fighting crime helps us to do our job.

"Cases involving child sex abuse are extremely serious and have a huge emotional impact not only on the victims but on whole families and the communities in which they take place.

"We understand the desire to protect children and we ask any member of the public who has information about child sexual abuse, online or otherwise, to contact the police so we can investigate and bring people to justice."