A CHARITY worker sent sexual messages and photographs to a "13-year-old" who was actually a law enforcement officer posing as a child.

Christopher Strong told police he had joined social media sites and "only intended to talk to adults, but ended up talking to younger people", Ieuan Bennett, prosecuting, told Cardiff Crown Court on Thursday.

Strong, of Ponthir Road, Caerleon, told officers he "never intended to meet anybody in reality", but police found messages in which he told 'Molly' - who was in fact a decoy set up by law enforcement - that he'd been "thinking about the meeting [he wanted to set up] and getting naked".

The court heard 'Molly' had repeatedly told Strong she was 13 years old, and a school uniform was visible in one photograph she sent him.

But that didn't stop Strong pursuing "overt sexualised conversations" with her, asking her questions about her body and whether she would perform sex acts on him, to which she said no.

RSPCA events worker Strong also told 'Molly' he was aged 35 and worked in an office in Newport, during a series of conversations between October and November last year. 

Police raided Strong's address at the time, in Cwmbran. Officers seized various electronics as the defendant told them he had been "talking to underage people", Mr Bennett told the court.

Later, at police interview, Strong told officers he had joined the social media platforms "simply to make friends with older people" but later made his way "down the age range".

He also told police he "denied any real sexual interest in children", the court heard.

Karl Williams, defending, said Strong had "effectively lost everything" since his arrest and had separated from his partner.

The defendant, now 36, had a "disrupted childhood" and had previously been referred to a mental health specialist, he added.

The judge, Recorder Duncan Bould, said Strong "engaged in what can only be described as grooming behaviour".

Strong's online contact with 'Molly' "obviously had as its background some sort of sexual contact" and his messages "had sexual undercurrents", Mr Bould said.

"This is a classic case of grooming," the judge told Strong.

Strong, who has one previous conviction for unrelated matters, was told there were currently no sentencing guidelines for the offence he had admitted - one of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.

A probation service report recommended "the best way of dealing with you is to address whatever issues exist" and "make sure you don't commit any offence in the future", the judge told the defendant.

He ordered Strong to complete a sexual offenders' behaviour programme for 50 days, as well as 15 days of rehabilitation activity.

This was "directly intended to assist you and therefore the public at large", the judge told him.

Strong was also given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

He has been placed on the sex offenders' register and been made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, both for 10 years. A barring order means he cannot work with children in future.

Strong must also complete 100 hours of unpaid work and pay £576 in court costs.