A FORMER chairman of Herefordshire Cricket who groomed girls online has been jailed after being caught in a covert sting run by police.

Gary King, who was chairman of the governing body for recreational cricket in the county for more than a decade, adopted fake instant messenger profiles in a bid to instigate explicit conversations with schoolgirls.

However, one of the ‘girls’ King was trying to groom was actually a covert police officer working with a West Midlands Police team which looks to snare paedophiles who are targeting children online.

The 59-year-old unwittingly instigated explicit exchanges with covert cyber-police via social media last September and in March this year.

Officers later moved in to arrest King at Stansted Airport as he tried boarding a plane to his Spanish holiday home.

In 2014 King stepped down as chairman of Herefordshire Cricket Ltd, which also develops young players aged nine to 19 by running programmes and county age group teams.

He was also a former chairman of Colwall Cricket Club and used to coach youth cricket teams in Worcestershire.

Examination of his laptop revealed evidence of sexual online chats with an unidentified 14-year-old girl from Aylesbury which ran for seven days between the end of April 2017 and the start of May.

And a USB stick seized from his home was also found to contain indecent images of girls which he had downloaded from the internet.

In police interview King, from Creed Road in Oundle, admitted the offences but claimed it was “fantasy role play” and that he had no intention of meeting the girls.

He admitted a total of six counts of attempting to incite a child to commit sexual activity with penetration, plus another of making indecent images of children.

And at Birmingham Crown Court he was jailed for 16 months and ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for 10 years. Anyone with information or concerns can call Det Insp Addison on 101.