RAF veteran told court he used chat rooms because he was 'lonely,' but was convicted of grooming young girls

A 92-year-old paedophile has been jailed after being caught by vigilantes trying to groom young girls online.

Ivor Gifford used internet chat rooms to attempt to meet an 11-year-old girl for sex, but unknown to him he was actually talking to a group trying to catch online child groomers. He was caught after arranging a meeting at a train station and was confront by two vigilantes who filmed the encounter.

Gifford, from Abertillery, in Blaenau Gwent, denied two charges of attempting to incite a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, and attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.

Newport Crown Court heard the RAF veteran started using the internet to find a housekeeper after his wife died in 2014. After learning to use chat rooms, he began talking to what he thought were two girls aged 11 and 12, and within half an hour started talking about sex and tried to arrange to meet the youngest girl. Over several weeks, Gifford groomed the girl and sent explicit photos of himself. He was confronted by the group when he arrived to meet the fictional girl at Llanhilleth Railway Station near Abertillery.

The court heard Gifford told police after his arrest: "I hope I die before this is out. I know how my family will react." He told officers he was lonely and learned to use chat sites to meet people to talk to. Gifford claimed he thought the girls were older, but a jury convicted him of both charges he faced.

Gifford was jailed for 18 months, made the subject of a 10-year sexual harm prevention order, ordered to sign the sex offenders register for 10 years and banned from working with children.

Following sentencing, both the NSPCC and Gwent Police urged people to report suspect paedophiles to the authorities rather than taking the law into their own hands.