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

Ivor Gifford was jailed for 18 months, after being caught trying to groom young girls online. Credit: Gwent Police

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.

You were on the internet looking for young girls and looking for young girls to engage in sexual activity.

You, it was clear, were well versed in using chat sites and using language and emojis.

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 well abled to communicate in the way that you have with young girls.

– Judge Daniel Williams

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.

Although the children Gifford was arranging to meet were not real, the danger he poses to young children is.

He set out to groom girls with the intention of sexually abusing them. This kind of predatory behaviour can ruin childhoods with the devastating effects lasting into adulthood.

We believe that identifying offenders and investigating crimes like these is best left to the police.

When members of the public take the law into their own hands it can run the risk of driving offenders underground, jeopardise on-going and complex police work or result in innocent people being harassed – all of which may put more children at risk of harm.

– NSPCC spokesperson

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.

If anyone has concerns about online grooming, please call 101 or email CEOP at www.ceop.police.uk. If you think a child is at immediate risk of harm, always call 999.

– Detective Constable Mark Price, Gwent Police