Convicted pervert, 27, banned from contact with children is spared jail in landmark case after downloading Snapchat
A convicted pervert who breached a court order by downloading the Snapchat app has been spared jail in a landmark case.
It was the first time a sex offender had been prosecuted in the UK for flouting a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) for having the popular image messaging and multimedia platform on his mobile phone.
David King, 27, was banned from using a device incapable of retaining and displaying its internet history after he was convicted in September 2013 of sexual activity with a child and possessing indecent photographs.
But during a routine check by police on April 1 last year it was discovered he had downloaded Snapchat, on which images, videos and messages self-destruct automatically and within seconds unless saved by the user.
He admitting knowing how the app worked but thought its history would be retained ‘somewhere’.
King, formerly of Tunbridge Wells in Kent but now said to be living in a caravan in a private car park in Bexhill, Sussex, originally denied breaching the SOPO.
His defence argued that having the Snapchat app did not make the device itself – an LG mobile phone – incapable of retaining internet history and he was therefore not guilty of the offence alleged.
However, King pleaded guilty at Maidstone Crown Court in Kent today after hearing two experts had concluded that material destroyed by Snapchat could only be viewed by using specialist forensic software.
But while a judge concluded that Snapchat was ‘precisely the kind of app sex offenders should conscientiously avoid’, he said he had to give King the benefit of doubt.
‘I sentence you on the basis you acted naively and recklessly rather than with malevolent intent,’ said Judge David Griffith-Jones QC.
He therefore imposed a sentence of 10 weeks’ jail suspended for 12 months, to which King promptly left the court building grinning and waving his arms jubilantly in the air.
It is the second suspended sentence King has been given and was imposed at today’s hearing despite previous SOPO breaches.
The original order was made at the same court after King was handed 16 months imprisonment suspended for two years in September 2013 for two offences of sexual activity with a child and two of possessing indecent photographs of her.
As well as internet use restrictions, it banned him from having unsupervised contact with under 16s.
But within a month of it being made he contacted his teenage victim – with whom he said he was in a relationship despite her age – on five occasions and they met up while he was staying at a bail hostel.
When arrested, King introduced the girl to officers as his partner.
He later admitted the breach and was jailed for 16 months in February 2014, with the judge remarking on his ‘arrogant approach’.
Having been released, he was still subject to the SOPO and signing on the sex offenders’ register.
Prosecutor Catherine Donnelly said King was being closely monitored by police and the Snapchat app was discovered when he handed over his phone at the request of an officer during a home visit on April 1 last year.
Miss Donnelly said: ‘A number of conditions were imposed by the order and the relevant condition was being prohibited from owning or using any device capable of accessing the internet unless it had the capacity to retain and display the history of the internet use and to make the device available on request by police.
‘He was also prohibited from deleting the history,’ explained Miss Donnelly.
‘He admitted downloading and using the Snapchat app and said he didn’t realise it wasn’t able to retain internet history.
‘He knew pictures and messages disappeared but he thought they were retained ‘somewhere’ but couldn’t say where.’
Miss Donnelly added there was some argument over whether any partial recovery could be made of deleted material but told the court it required specialist forensic software.
‘By downloading that app, which uses the internet to send and receive, the defendant’s mobile phone no longer had the capacity to retain or display the internet history as required,’ she said.
At a previous hearing, King said he was ‘gobsmacked’ when he discovered Snapchat put him in breach of the order.
‘Communications will be routinely destroyed automatically, leaving no, or no significant, trace.
‘It’s precisely the kind of application which offenders such as yourself, subject to restrictions, should conscientiously avoid,’ he said.
Explaining why he felt able to impose a suspended sentence, the judge said there was no evidence King had used Snapchat, or his phone, inappropriately.
But he added: ‘The extent of your recklessness is disturbing, especially in the light of your history and breaches more serious than this.
‘That should have been a salutary lesson to you and caused you to be meticulous in the care in which you went about your life and in particular the care which you applied in the use of devices capable of accessing the internet.
‘As it is, you showed a distinct lack of care.’
King continues to be subject to the same SOPO and sex offender registration for 10 years.
Tunbridge Wells pervert behind bars until schoolgirl he groomed for sex reaches 16 after pair vow to continue relationship
A pervert who refuses to stay away from a teenage girl he groomed for underage sex is being kept in prison until she reaches the age of consent.
David King admitted breaching the terms of a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) by continuing to have contact with the girl.
But his lawyer told a judge they were both determined to continue the relationship when the girl reached her 16th birthday in December
Passing a sentence that will keep 24-year-old King in jail until about mid-December, Judge Charles Byers told him: “If you have any sense, you will keep yourself to yourself until after Christmas when you will see her without any difficulty.”
King was given a 16-month suspended sentence, with two years’ supervision, in September last year for two offences of sexual activity with a child and two of possessing indecent photographs of her.
King, formerly of Powder Mill Lane, Tunbridge Wells, was also ordered to complete a sex offenders’ programme and 200 hours’ unpaid work
He was placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years and a curfew was imposed for four months.
A judge said at the time it was in the public interest there was intervention to address his “distortion in thinking”.
The court heard King had a relationship with the girl, which developed into intimate sexual contact.
The judge ordered King to have no unsupervised contact with any child under 16.
But Maidstone Crown Court heard King had contacted the girl by mobile phone and then met her in November last year while he was staying at bail hostel in Maidstone.
Dominic Benthall, prosecuting, said King was spotted walking with his arm around the girl.
When arrested, he told officers: “This is my partner.”
He confirmed he had breached the SOPO and was aware of the ramifications.
“He said he would continue to contact her because he loved her and they were engaged,” said Mr Benthall
Ordering King to serve the 16-month suspended sentence – plus six months for breaching the order – Judge Byers spoke of the offender’s “arrogant approach” and ordered no contact with the girl until she was 16.
He told King: “When a court makes an order it means it.
“You may not think it is appropriate for a court to make it, but such orders are made for the protection of those under the age of 16.
“You have at least had the good sense to please guilty. It is an aggravating feature there are so many breaches.
The judge said the 22-month sentence meant King would be released somewhere around the middle of December
Barry Gregory, defending, said King had been open about his position. “It seems both parties are determined that as at her 16th birthday they will continue the relationship,” he added.
“He is upset it is suggested he is predatory. He deserves punishment and will take it. Other than that, you can let him be released at the end of the year.”
Mr Gregory added King wanted to contact the girl’s father and, if necessary, take “clout around the ear”.
Paedophile spared jail over sex offences against girl
A Tunbridge Wells paedophile has been spared jail after admitting four offences against a schoolgirl.
David King, 23, of Powdermill Lane, was instead given a 16 month prison sentence suspended for two years.
He was also put under supervision and ordered to complete 200 hours unpaid work and a sex offenders’ programme.
A four month curfew from 8pm to 6am was put on King.
Maidstone Crown Court was told King, who admitted two offences of sexual activity with a child and two of possession of indecent photographs of her, had groomed the girl beforehand.
Rather than jail him though Judge David Griffith-Jones QC said : “It seems to me it is in the interests of the public that you receive intervention to address the distortion in your thinking. This will best be achieved by a suspended sentence which is subject to conditions.”
The judge added: “You knew what you were up to was wrong and you were warned by the police in October 2012,”
He said at that time King had indicated it was purely a platonic friendship and that he had no sexual interest in the girl.
But, referring to the girl as a “victim” the judge told King : “I refer to her as your victim, because that is what she was. These offences represent a concerted course of conduct over a period of time against a background of grooming.”
He added although King had pleaded guilty he had not shown any remorse for what had happened and that reports before the court indicated that he was “in denial” as far as the implications of his behaviour was concerned.
King’s counsel, Terence Boulter, said the relationship between King and the girl had been “consensual” though he admitted “it was wrong for it to happen.”
He added : “While custody would punish him, it would do absolutely nothing to address the concerns.”
The judge also ordered that King’s name should go on to the sex offenders’ register for ten years and during that time he should also be subject of a sexual offences prevention order.
Under the order he will be banned from unsupervised contact with any child under 16 and not be allowed access to the internet unless monitored by the police.