South East Wales

Grooming defendant, 92, 'thought girls were older'

Newport Crown Court

A 92-year-old man accused of attempting to groom children online has told a court he did not believe he was really talking to 11 and 12-year-old girls in a chatroom.

Ivor Gifford, of Abertillery, sent messages to two fake online profiles and arranged to meet a girl.

He told Newport Crown Court he thought the people he was messaging were older than they claimed.

Mr Gifford denies inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

He also denies one charge of online grooming.

The court had previously heard Mr Gifford had been arrested when he went to meet one of the children after fake profiles were set up by a group called the Hunted One, which had been monitoring his online conversations.

Speaking in his defence, Mr Gifford said he had gone on to the sites to meet people in their 50s and 60s for friendship and to try to find a housekeeper.

He denied looking for under-18s and said he assumed all websites had an age requirement.

He said he felt the photographs shown of the girls he was messaging showed them as being between 17 and 21 or older.

"When I first saw the age as 11 my curiosity said to me 'what is a young lady of 11 doing on an adult site? Where are her parents and guardians?'"

He admitted the sexual content of his messages, saying: "By talking in a sexual manner on this site you could get answers."

He told the court he had sent pictures of his penis to both fake profiles "by accident - I never intended to send them anything in the nude".

'No interest in juveniles'

Mr Gifford described his contact with both fake profiles as "banter, a bit of fun".

"I was never trying to be serious with Jodie or Jessie," he said.

"I have no interest in juveniles whatsoever. They were not juveniles to me - they looked a lot older."

The court heard he had asked "Jessie" to come and meet him. "It was just banter but if she wanted to come for a very short time, with no strings attached, that would be that," he said.

He told the court it would be a way of proving if she existed, but he had then asked her not to come.

"If she was the age she said she was, I wouldn't feel happy with her coming to my house. I'd feel ashamed of being associated with her if she existed," he said.

He added he did not expect sex with her. Under cross examination, he said: "I invited her to come to my home but not for any immoral purpose."

The trial continues.

More on this story