A pensioner who was a registered sex offender was jailed for inviting children to his home and giving them gifts Reuters

A 79-year-old paedophile who gave children sweets, toys and money and invited them to his home has been jailed.

Victor Pope, of Normanby, Middlesbrough, did not molest the children, but did not disclose his criminal past, The Mirror reported. Parents are said to have felt "sick" to discover Pope was a registered sex offender.

The pensioner's lawyer claimed he acted as a lonely old man who searched for company and friendship.

However, Teesside Crown Court Judge Tony Briggs said a prison sentence was "unavoidable" for a man who repeatedly disregarded a court order meant to prevent crime.

According to Gazette Live, Pope was jailed for five years in 2003 in York for indecently assaulting a girl and having indecent photos of children. In 2009, he was given a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) that banned him from contact with under-18s or having cameras.

Pope befriended a woman, whose grandson visited him several times and was given sweets, toys, a calculator, a model aeroplane and birthday gifts, The Mirror reported. The woman alerted authorities after discovering Pope was a sex offender during an online search, prosecutor Harry Hadfield said.

The man was also visited by a teenage girl, who was shown jigsaws and model ships he made. Pope reportedly also gave the girl money, sweets and a tablet computer.

The girl's mother said she had befriended Pope and treated him kindly because she felt sorry for him. She said she now felt silly for trusting him and blamed herself.

Pope admitted to police that he did not reveal his criminal history to the children's carers. He also confessed to seven breaches of the SOPO.

Investigators found six devices in Pope's home that were banned under his SOPO, including a phone, a Kindle, three video cameras and a computer monitor with a webcam. Nothing was found on any of the devices.

"There was no sexual behaviour," said Pope's defence attorney Duncan McReddie. "His contact with the children was not born out of any sexual desire or gratification. It was born out of simple human need for company and compassion."

McReddie claimed that Pope had not committed a sex offence since 2003 and noted that the devices were bought out of "fascination with anything technical and mechanical".

According to the Mirror, McReddie asked for mercy for Pope, who had health issues including a triple bypass operation, hearing difficulties and needing to take morphine for back and chest problems.

Briggs, however, said Pope had betrayed people's trust with repeated breaches of the order. "Nothing sexual happened in this particular period but that's not the point," the judge said.

Pope was jailed for 18 months.