Judge extends sexual harm order for former chairman of Neath Chamber of Trade
THE former chairman of Neath Chamber of Trade has been handed a three year court order by a judge after a senior police officer said he was still risk to the sexual harm of the public.
Officers arrested Gareth Mathias for withholding two laptops during a routine search just days before his five year Sexual Offences Prevention Order (Sopo) was due to end.
The Iraq War veteran was slapped with the original Sopo in 2011 after he was convicted for a second time of making indecent images of children.
However, 36-year-old Mathias maintains that a 12 month rehabilitation programme has helped him recover and he had now seen the error of his ways.
Today Swansea Crown Court heard police visited his home in Fron Terrace, Llanelli, on July 23 this year.
Dyfed-Powys Police detective inspector Paul Jones said: “We asked for the devices he was using to access the internet, however we knew at least one more was being used.
“After that he conceded he did have another laptop. When we said the place would be searched he handed over another one.
“When he was arrested he fell to the floor crying. Then he started pacing up and down, muttering.”
He added that Mathias had shown a “lack of engagement” with police over the last five years.
Mathias pleaded guilty to breaching the Sopo by failing to hand over the devices, calling it a “momentous cock-up”.
He went on to explain that he had wanted to speed up the search, which could sometimes take all day, so he could see his mother before heading to a “theatre of war” in the Ukraine, where he was making inroads with his growing first aid business.
“I just didn’t want to wait six hours to then be told there’s too much information and they’d have to take the devices away,” he said.
A video on one of the laptops, apparently taken in secret, showed a young man on the toilet. Mathias explained the man in the video was over 18, had given full consent and that they planned to watch the video together for sexual gratification.
The court heard that any voyeurism charges would likely be dropped because it was apparently shot in Ukraine.
Det insp Jones called for Mathias’ Sopo to be extended. He said: “It’s my view that the risk of sexual harm to the public is still present.”
Defence lawyer James Hartson said his client had “legitimate business interests” in Ukraine and that police had a “zeal” to trip him up which was preventing him getting on with his life.
Mathias told the court his 12 month sexual offenders programme had “taught me a lot, not just about offending but also about myself, and my identity”.
Recorder Gregory Bull QC extended the Sopo by three years, dropping a section banning travel to Ukraine or Belarus, and told him to pay £3,940 in fines and prosecution costs.
“I can’t close my eyes to the defendant’s previous convictions, and although it was towards the end of the previous order it’s a serious matter and I’m satisfied there’s been a reluctance to engage with police over the last five years,” he said.
“Police have a difficult job to do. They have to attend your home and carry out these duties. The law is more concerned with protection of children and young people than the comfort of the accused.”
Convicted paedophile resigns as chairman of Neath Chamber of Trade
THE newly appointed chairman of Neath Chamber of Trade has resigned after it was revealed he was a registered sex offender.
Gaz Mathias has twice been convicted of making indecent images of children, in 2009 and again in 2011.
He was appointed chairman of the group in November, but he has now resigned after it was revealed that his full name was Gareth John Mathias, originally from Llanelli.
Deputy chairwoman Bernadette Davies has now been appointed in his place. In an official statement, on behalf of the chamber, she said: “The Neath Chamber of Trade is very saddened by recent revelations which have led to the resignation of Mr Mathias.
“It was indeed not in the best interest of Neath or Mr Mathias for him to have stood for this role. I can confirm that his past convictions were revealed to the committee by Mr Mathias over the weekend and he was setting about to do the right thing in resigning and revealing the truth, when it reached the public domain.”
She added: “There is no duty to CRB check incumbent officers to this or any chamber of trade or commerce within the United Kingdom to date.”
Ms Davies said they were “very unhappy” about the situation and will be putting to the vote whether future officers should be CRB checked.
She added: “Finally, let us not forget what we the Chamber of Trade and upstanding Neath residents are passionate about — Neath’s growth and development, which we will be driving in 2014 with the Love Neath Campaign to be launched in February.”
In a joint statement on behalf of Dyfed-Powys Police Force and Wales Probation Trust it said they do not comment on individual cases, but it confirmed that all relevant offenders are managed via Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA).
The statement said: “Making our communities safer through effective multi-agency public protection arrangements remains our highest priority.”
Mr Mathias was contacted by the Post for comment but he did not respond.
Sex offender caught with indecent pics
A CONVICTED sex offender was caught with indecent images of children after he changed his name without telling the police.
Ex-Sea Cadets instructor and former Special Constable Gareth John Mathias, of Fron Terrace, Llanelli, was given a suspended prison sentence and registered as a sex offender in 2009 after he admitted 13 offences of making indecent photographs of children in 2008.
ut in the months following the court case he breached the sentence when he changed his name to Gary James Taylor on Christmas Day, 2009 — and failed to inform police.
Swansea Crown Court heard that the 31-year-old also committed fraud when he gained employment with Anglian Home Improvements in Fforestfach, and failed to declare his previous conviction on his application form. When officers arrested him, they searched his home and found 59 indecent images of children.
Patrick Griffiths, prosecuting, said in 2010 Mathias took up work as an area sales leader with the company, also known as Anglian Windows.
“He made the application in the name of Gary James Taylor,” he said. “He had formerly changed his name by deed.”
Mr Griffiths added that Mathias indicated on his application form that he had no previous criminal convictions.
The court heard that after changing his name, Mathias twice spoke to police “purporting to seek advice” that he was considering changing his name. But at no time did he say he had already done it.
“In the meantime on April 12, 2010, it seems that by chance a police officer had cause to stop a car driven by this defendant,” said Mr Griffiths.
“He (Mathias) produced a photographic driving licence in the name of Gary James Taylor.”
An anonymous tip-off was received by Anglian Windows in relation to Mathias’s situation, and when police attended his home they uncovered the images, all of which were at thumbnail size, on computer equipment. Fifty-seven of them were at level one, while two were at level four. On a scale of one to five, five is the most serious.
Mathias pleaded guilty to 16 counts of making indecent images of children, one count of possessing the images, fraud and failing to comply with notification requirements. In police interview he said he had been victimised as a result of his previous conviction and had struggled to gain employment.
“Therefore he decided he’d attempt the new identification,” said Mr Griffiths. “It was all part of the process where he was seeking to conceal his past.”
Mathias told officers he was not responsible for the images and said he’d bought the hard drive that contained 58 of them at a second-hand shop in Germany in 2008, while he’d bought the laptop, containing one image, at a car boot sale.
Edward Burgess, defending, said Mathias’s parents and brother had supported him throughout the proceedings. He said in 2008 his client stood trial in relation to a serious allegation. When the jury failed to reach a verdict, there was a retrial with a fresh jury and Mathias was acquitted.
Mr Burgess said Mathias had then found it “practically impossible” to find work following publicity surrounding the case, and had changed his name in a bid to find work. Judge Peter Heywood sentenced Mathias to a three-year community order with supervision. He said the order would address the defendant’s issues and warned him it was not a “soft option”.
Mathias must also undertake a sex offenders’ programme, register as a sex offender for five years and will be subject to the sex offender’s prevention order for five years.