November 2017

Convicted paedophile ‘chillingly’ befriends mum with young son, breaching order

A convicted paedophile who, with ‘a chilling resonance’ to his previous offence, befriended a woman with a young son and failed to comply with his registration as a sex offender.

And Steven Harrison’s ‘serious, deliberate and repeated non-compliance’ has landed him with a 32-month prison sentence and an order to register as a sex offender for life.

Harrison (43) of Westmorland Road, Coventry, had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to three charges of failing to comply with his sex offender registration and seven of breaching a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO).

Prosecutor Charles Crinion said the SOPO had been imposed in July 2013, to last for a period of 15 years, when Harrison was given a three-year community order for sexually assaulting a ten-year-old boy.

That offence, at a time when Harrison was known as Steven Gerrard, took place after he had befriended the boy’s mother.

But last year Harrison befriended the mother of a seven-year-old boy and went on trips away with them, staying in a hotel in Liverpool on one occasion and in a caravan on another.

He did so having failed to notify the police he was staying at those places, in breach of the requirements of his sex offender registration.

And he had also failed to tell to boy’s mother of his conviction and had unsupervised contact with other boys, putting him in breach of the SOPO.

In addition, when he was arrested he was found to have various devices capable of accessing the internet or storing digital images, including two phones, a laptop computer, a camera and a Playstation console, about which he had failed to inform his offender manager.

His offences came to light after a social worker who was a member of a church in Coventry, where she oversees the teaching of children, met Harrison when he began attending the church earlier this year.

He introduced himself as Steven Gerrard and claimed to have previously been a semi-professional footballer who had also been involved in coaching.

After a while she began to consider whether he would be a good person to have as a lay teacher because he said he was good at coaching children.

But when she began to check him out last month, she came across a Facebook post with a picture of Harrison with a message that he had a conviction for child abuse.

And on his own profile she saw that among his ‘friends’ was a 14-year-old boy who said he had been approached by Harrison, who claimed to have appeared on X-Factor, at the church.

Another member of the church said he had seen Harrison in a conversation about football with his 12-year-old son, offering the boy ‘one-on-one coaching’ and saying he could get him a trial.

The police were informed, and when he was arrested the laptop and other items, about which he should have informed his offender manager, were found at his home, said Mr Crinion.

Earlier this year Harrison appealed against his earlier conviction, which had involved him simulating sex with a ten-year-old boy, claiming the boy had made it up to get compensation.

But judges at the Court of Appeal rejected his assertion that he had been pressured into pleading guilty to those offences.

Jailing Harrison, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC told him the mother he had befriended ‘had no idea of your dark past and what I find to be your dark present.’

“You are a person who is attracted to young boys, and you would have offended with this child, given the chance. There is a chilling resonance to what you did previously,” the judge added.