AN Aberystwyth man who wanted to rape an eight-year-old girl has been jailed for seven years.

Richard Smale, 37, of Flat 1, 20 Great Darkgate Street, discussed his plan with someone he believed to be the child's father, but was in fact an undercover police officer.

When Smale was arrested, he denied having a sexual interest in children and claimed the online conversations had been 'pure fantasy'.

He was however convicted at trial of attempting to facilitate or arrange the commission of a child sex offence.

During the conversations with the undercover officer online, which occurred in June last year, Smale discussed detailed travel and accommodation plans and also sent six videos of children being sexually abused and raped.

When Smale was arrested, he was also found in possession of 12g of cannabis.

Smale appeared before Swansea Crown Court for sentencing after being convicted of facilitating or arranging the commission of a child sex offence, as well as charges of distributing Class A and Class B indecent images and possession of cannabis, to which he pleaded guilty.

He has no previous convictions.

Smale's representative, Dyfed Thomas, said Smale's conversations with the decoy had been relatively short and nothing had been acted on, adding that his client had experienced difficulties with anxiety and depression.

Judge Huw Rees said Smale's insistence that he had no sexual interest in children was a 'fantasy'.

He said he accepted the conviction was a 'significant fall from grace' for Smale and would lead to him losing his university employment.

Smale was jailed for seven years for the attempting to facilitate or arrange te commission of a child sex offence, while he was jailed for 16 months for the indecent images and one month for the cannabis possession, all to run concurrently.

Smale will serve two-thirds of that sentence in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.

Smale will be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life and was made the subject of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.