May 2019

Lowestoft man sentenced to six years after breaching Sexual Harm Prevention Order

A 66-year-old man from Lowestoft has been sentenced to six years in prison after breaching the terms of a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO)

Peter Ashford, of Wellington Esplanade in Lowestoft admitted five offences of breaching a SHPO and being in breach of a suspended sentence order.

He was sentenced to a total of six years in jail and was also made the subject of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order when he appeared before Ipswich Magistrates Court today, 14 May 2019.

Officers began investigated potential breaches of a SHPO to which the defendant was subject, part of which prohibited Ashford from “loitering within 20 metres of playgrounds, parks or designated play areas where children under the age of 16 may be present.”

On 30 January 2019 a public protection officer observed Ashford 10 metres away the boundary fence of Gunton Primary School and he was subsequently arrested.

Ashford was found to have breached the SHPO on a total of five occasions between September 2018 and January 2019.

April 2019

Horticultural enthusiast loitered outside primary school and breached sexual harm prevention order

A horticultural enthusiast breached a sexual harm prevention order after being found loitering outside a Lowestoft primary school.

Peter Nigel Ashford, of Wellington Esplanade, Lowestoft, claimed he was showing a “complete stranger” flowers just metres from Gunton Primary School on January 30, but magistrates found him guilty of loitering outside the playground.

As a result of the SHPO, which had been imposed at Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court three weeks earlier on January 9, the 66-year-old was banned from loitering within 20 metres of playgrounds, parks or designated play areas where children under 16 may be present.

PC Darren Benford-Brown, who had observed Ashford in the woods earlier in the day, was watching in plain clothes with a dog for cover.

He said: “I was tasked with being in the wooded area to see if he was breaching his SHPO. Gunton Woods is a large wooded area open to the public and used a lot by dog walkers. It backs on to the primary school.

“He was on the path near to the playground fence talking to a man who had a camera around his neck with a long lens. As soon as he saw us he appeared to say something to the man and they bent down and appeared to take photographs.

“As I reached them I looked and the other man was taking photographs of grass and mud. There was nothing of note.

“It looked to me that once he spotted us he deliberately said something.

“I observed him there for eight minutes but I don’t know how long he had already been there.”

The man seen with Ashford was not stopped at the time and has not been identified since.

When interviewed by police, Ashford told officers he had walked his dog in the park twice daily for around two years, and that his dog usually led the way by running off chasing squirrels.

Ashford told the court: “I saw a man taking photos of snowdrops and I got into a conversation with him because they were my favourite flowers.

“He was a complete stranger and I have never seen him before. I mentioned I had seen some flowers a few days earlier and I didn’t know what they were called. I tried to describe them but he didn’t know.
“I was only being inquisitive. I am not a flower buff but I wanted to know its name.”

Ashford claimed he took the “complete stranger” to the flowers, which he said he later found out to be ranunculales. This put him within 20 metres of Gunton Primary School.

He said: “All that was in my mind were the flowers. He took two photos and adjusted his lens. I don’t have access to the internet so he said he would keep an eye out for me and let me know if he found out their name.

“I walked off, directly away from the playing fields. I didn’t see any children.

“It was not my intention to loiter or take photographs of children. As far as I am concerned I was there for a purpose.

“I am always aware of where I should and should not be. Had I seen the flowers anywhere else in the woods I would have taken him there.

Magistrates found Ashford guilty of breaching the SHPO and remanded him in custody until he is sentenced on June 18.

January 2019

Repeat sex offender discussed fantasies involving five-year-olds with his former cellmate

A repeat sexual offender who discussed fantasies involving five-year-olds with his former cellmate has been spared jail.

Peter Nigel Ashford, 66, of Wellington Esplanade, Lowestoft, sent a number of “horrific and appalling” messages before destroying his SIM card, despite being made to sign the sex offender register for life in 2001.

In the messages, Ashford talked about girls in parks, including a five-year-old with learning difficulties, and said: “age means everything to me.”

Nicola Pope, prosecuting, said: “He was using a mobile phone to communicate with another sex offender from Romania, with 40 grossly offensive messages found between March and July.

“He admitted sending these messages, but said they were fabricated fantasies and no victim was involved.

“There were conversations backwards and forwards between them.

“He destroyed the SIM card a few days before he was arrested, but some of the messages were recovered.

“Throughout his criminal record there are convictions spanning a number of decades which will cause concern and shows a continuing risk.”

Ashford, whose last conviction was in 2011, pleaded guilty to sending offensive and indecent messages on September 24 when he appeared at Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court on November 28.

At that hearing, the court heard how the pensioner was “erotically winding up” his former cellmate, a Romanian who previously lived in Lowestoft, in the hope of “keeping in his good books” and going to Romania on holiday.

James Hartley, defending, said: “These messages are horrific and appalling and he is thoroughly ashamed. There is a difference between fantasy and putting it into practice.

“He threw the SIM card away because it was out of credit and he did not want it anymore.”

Ashford also admitted failing to comply with notification requirements for the sex offender register after failing to declare an American Express bank card, which he told the court was through a “misunderstanding” while registering his cards.

He returned to court on Wednesday, January 9, where magistrates handed him a 16-week prison sentence for the messages, and a four week sentence for the failure to comply, with both sentences running concurrently and suspended for 18 weeks.

He was also ordered to sign a Sexual Harm Prevention Order until further notice, to carry out 30 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days, and must pay £85 court costs and a £150 victim surcharge.

November 2018

Sexual offender sent ‘disgusting’ fantasies to former cellmate to ensure Romanian holidays

A repeat sexual offender who texted “disgusting” fantasies about young girls in return for a holiday has been warned he could be returning to prison.

Peter Nigel Ashford, of Wellington Esplanade, Lowestoft, was “erotically winding up” his former cellmate in the hope of “keeping in his good books” to go to Romania on holiday.

The 66-year-old has a number of previous convictions for sexual offences and was jailed for six years in 2001, when he was made to sign the sex offenders register for life.

Appearing at Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, Ashford pleaded guilty to sending offensive and indecent messages.

Nicola Pope, prosecuting, said: “Police received a report that he was in contact with another sex offender from Romania and discovered 40 text messages between the pair that were of indecent content and greatly offensive.

“They were describing fantasies between the two sex offenders about little girls in parks, some with mental disabilities.

“In one of the messages, he said: ‘age means everything to me’.”

The court also heard how concerns about Ashford’s behaviour had been growing in recent years after he began contacting previous victims.

James Hartley, defending, said: “He is deeply ashamed of what he put in the messages.

“When he went to prison, he shared a cell with this other man and afterwards they kept in contact with each other. For the last few years he would go to Romania and stay in his property over the summer months.

“For that reason he has kept in touch and he sent the messages to keep him on side and in his good books so he could keep going over.

“The messages were only sent to one person of a similar persuasion. There was no victim, but I accept they make unpleasant reading.”

Ashford also admitted failing to comply with notification requirements for the sex offenders register after failing to declare an American Express bank card, which he told the court was through a “misunderstanding” while registering his cards.

Magistrates adjourned the case for an all-options pre-sentence report to be prepared, with Ashford warned he may face a prison sentence.

Peter Candon, chair of the bench, said: “The content of what was said was disgusting and you were both erotically winding each other up.

“We are not happy at all with this.”

Ashford will return to the court on January 9 for sentencing and was granted conditional bail until then, banning him from entering Normanston Park in Lowestoft.

July 2014: Now living in Kessingland, Suffolk and known to attend car boot sales

August 2001

Internet paedophile jailed

A paedophile who filmed sex sessions with underage girls he met in internet chatrooms has been sentenced to eight years in jail.

Peter Ashford, 48, of Thetford in Norfolk, admitted a total of 13 charges against the girls at an earlier hearing.

The charges included one count of rape, two of buggery, three counts of indecent assault and two charges of unlawful sexual intercourse.

He was also charged with two counts of taking pornographic photographs.

Ashford struck up relationships with two 14-year-old girls via internet chat rooms.

Judge Anthony Thorpe at Chichester Crown Court gave Ashford a 12 year sentence, made up of eight years in prison followed by four of extended supervision.

He added: “This case is yet another warning to parents of the dangers of internet chatrooms, allowing men like (Ashford) to strike up acquaintances with young girls.

“It is clear that many parents have no idea just what undesirable friendships are being established with their children over the net.”

Sussex police say they are investigating whether Ashford has committed other offences.

It was revealed in court he had a previous conviction for sexual offences against an underage girl.