A MAN from St Asaph who groomed multiple police decoys who he thought were children has been jailed.

Neil Doherty, 60, of Lothians Park, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment at Caernarfon Crown Court today (November 10).

He was convicted by a jury of seven charges, including engaging in sexual communication with a child, and attempting to cause a child to engage in sexual activity

Prosecutor Nicholas Williams told the court that Doherty sent one of the decoys, pretending to be a 12-year-old called “Emma”, a naked picture of himself.

Between May 17-28, 2021, Doherty asked sexualised questions of her, and requested photographs of “Emma”, as well as encouraging her to “talk dirty”.

Doherty also encouraged “Emma” to perform a sex act on themselves.

From January 17-20, 2021, he engaged in sexual communication with “Sam”, who he believed to also be 12 years old.

Another decoy 12-year-old, “Dani”, was encouraged by Doherty to perform a sex act upon themselves between April 13 and May 25, 2021.

Doherty also asked for photographs of “Dani” during this time.

Mr Williams said that, in two of the cases, Doherty tried to arrange to meet a decoy for the purpose of having sexual intercourse with them.

His previous convictions date back to 1979, albeit none are for sexual offences, with his last being in 2008.

During his trial, Doherty claimed it was his genuine belief that he was talking to adult females.

Defending, Anna Price said that this was a “sad case”, but stressed that no actual children were involved in Doherty’s offending.

She accepted that an immediate jail term was inevitable for Doherty, who had not been in prison since 1997, which was for a “very short” period.

Doherty, Ms Price said, suffers from alcohol issues, as well as heart and back problems, while he is medicated for post-traumatic stress disorder.

Asking for a sentence “as short as possible” on his behalf, she added: “Custody will not be an easy experience for him.”

Sentencing, Recorder Wyn Lloyd-Jones told Doherty that he committed these offences for his “own selfish sexual gratification”.

Recorder Lloyd-Jones said: “It saddens me to have sentence a man of your age for so many offences of a serious nature.”

Doherty will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order, and sex offenders register notification requirements, indefinitely.

The phone which he used to commit these offences was ordered to be forfeited and destroyed, while Doherty will pay a statutory surcharge upon his release.