April 2018

Persistent sex offender jailed

A shameless sex offender has been jailed for using Facebook to contact a vulnerable 13-year-old girl and asking her to have sex with him.

Edwin Richards defied an order that bans any contact with children by becoming a Facebook friend of the girl, who is in care and living at a children’s home in Lancashire.

He got her phone number and rang her up with sexually explicit phone calls. He also sent 294 messages on Facebook, some asking if she would have sex with him.

His behaviour came to light when staff at the home became suspicious of the girl’s use of the internet and checked her social media accounts. 

Richards, aged 53, has a record of sexual offending dating back to 1980 and was jailed in 2010 for flashing at two girls aged eight and nine in Newton Abbot.

He was put on the sex offenders’ register at the time and made subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) which prohibited any unsupervised contact with children.

Richards, formerly of Haldon Rise, Newton Abbot, but now of Parkhurst Rd, Torquay, admitted breaching the SOPO and failing to comply with the terms of the sex offenders register.

He was jailed for two years and three months by Judge Peter Johnson at Exeter Crown Court and made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order with even more stringent conditions.

November 2010

Flasher followed girls through park

A BALACLAVA-CLAD flasher has been jailed after following two young girls through a Devon park as they tried to hide from him.

Edwin Richards, 46, of Newton Abbot, was sent to prison for nine months at Exeter Crown Court.

Richards, who has a previous conviction for obscene phone calls, had pleaded guilty to an offence of exposing himself to the youngsters at the park.

Richards, is now of no fixed abode, although his previous address was Haldon Road in the town.

The court heard he was a loner who has “gone under the radar” and it was uncertain where he was going to live in future.

Judge Paul Darlow told him: “It was a nasty example of this sort of case, over and above the shock and revulsion of the young girls.”

At an earlier hearing, the court was told the defendant spotted two girls, who were under ten, walking to the park, around 4pm on Saturday, March 20.

He peered at them, followed them to the park and put a balaclava on to obscure his face.

Richards exposed himself to the girls, who ran off and hid in a bush.

He then searched for them before running away.

The girls reported it to police and the defendant was later arrested, after his DNA was found in thebalaclava which he had thrown away as he fled from the park in Newton Abbot.

Prosecutor Alexander Allsop applied for a Sexual Offences Prevention Order at the hearing, to help prevent Richards committing further crimes.

Defence counsel William Parkhill said the defendant had learning disabilities and found it difficult to interact with other people.

Mr Parkhill said Richards felt ashamed and embarrassed about his behaviour.

“This is a case of Mr Richards losing control for a period of months and going off the rails,” said the barrister. “He has lived in something of a vacuum.”

He said the defendant had not seen his GP for a long time.

“In many ways he has gone under the radar for a considerable time,” he said.

Judge Darlow said the crime was made worse because the victims were two young girls, Richards had tried to hide his identity by wearing a balaclava and he had a criminal record for sexually inappropriate behaviour, although no previous convictions for flashing.

The judge told him: “I treat you as a repeat offender, as you have previous convictions for sexually inappropriate behaviour.”

Judge Darlow imposed the Sexual Offences Prevention Order, although he did not give a specific time period, and said Richards must put his details on the Sex Offenders’ Register for ten years.

Richards will also be automatically put on lists barring him from taking part in regulated activities with vulnerable adults and children.