A Pembrokeshire social worker trawled pornographic websites, arranging to have sex with a 13-year-old girl in a hotel room and saying he would bring underwear, alcopop and lubricant.

Richard Dale Ford, 51, now of Princess Way Road, Hackney, has been sentenced to five years in prison for a string of sexual offences.

The court heard that Ford, who had worked as an adults’ social worker had changed his name by deed poll.

Social Care Wales confirmed to the Western Telegraph that he was known to them as Dale Richard Barker and is currently subject to an interim suspension order.

On his arrest, Ford was found to be in possession of more than 900 indecent images of children, 254 which were of the most serious class A category. Of these he had shared or distributed 19 images.

Ford used two websites to facilitate child sexual abuse. He said that he had a sexual interest in young children and "blossoming girls and young girls that need training up".

Unbeknown to him, he was talking to undercover police officers.

He said that he was looking to groom a girl of nine or 10 and asked how he could arrange "play dates" to meet and have sexual intercourse with young girls.

In conversations with who he thought was the abusive mother of a 13-year-old girl, to whom he sent 19 indecent images, Ford fantasised about sex with her daughter.

He discussed booking a hotel room and carrying out sexual acts with the child while the mother watched and even had a conversation with the teen where he discussed sexual matters.

During this second chat Ford revealed that he had sexually touched a teenage girl.

When he was arrested in September 2022 police seized devices from his home and found 910 indecent images. 254 of these were in the class A category, with 123 of them being class B and 533 class C.

Ford’s revelations that he had sexually abused a young girl led to a separate police investigation. Officers were able to locate his victim, a teenager, who disclosed three sexual offences that Ford had committed against her.

In all three incidents, Ford had intentionally groped or fondled her over her clothing.

In a victim impact statement, read out in court by her mother, the girl said.

“I can’t believe you did this…It has changed my life.”

She said that she could not use public transport without feeling anxious and scared, worrying that any man nearby will touch her and that she had lost a lot of trust. She didn’t like being on her own in public at night.

“Sometimes I cry at night,” she said. “Sometimes I have panic attacks too. How can someone be so sick in the head that they can do this? You knew I was vulnerable and you used that against me. I can’t believe you did this.”

In Ford’s defence, his counsel said that he was remorseful and had sought help, enrolling on a Safer Lives course and seeking professional help. He had pleaded guilty to all offences and had no previous convictions.

Ford was sentenced for arranging the commission of a child sexual offence, attempting to cause a child to watch a sexual act, possession of 910 indecent images, distribution of 19 of these images, and for the three sexual offences on the teenage girl.

Judge Her Honour Catherine Richards sentenced him to a total of five years in prison. He will spend half of this in custody and the other half on licence.

He was put on the sex offenders register for life. A further hearing later this week will finalise the terms of a restraining order and a sexual harm prevention order.

A spokesperson for Social Care Wales said: “We can confirm that Richard Ford, who was previously known to us as Dale Richard Barker, is currently subject to an interim suspension order, which prohibits him from working in a registered social care role in Wales.”

A Pembrokeshire County Council spokesperson added: “We are aware that an individual formerly employed by the council has been sentenced for several child sex offences.

“These offences were not committed by the individual in the course of their employment with the council, and as with any investigation into child sexual abuse, the local authority cooperated with the criminal investigation, and took all steps to ensure that any children impacted by such offences are identified and supported.

“Anyone who has a concern about the welfare of a child can contact police on 101, the child care assessment team on 01437 764551, or in an emergency, dial 999.”