March 2018

Convicted sex offender breached a court order

A convicted sex offender from Shepton Mallet has been sent to jail by a judge after he breached a court order by browsing the internet in secret.

James Matthews had been made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) after being convicted of downloading nearly 60,000 indecent images of children and three offences of outraging public decency.

One of the conditions of the order was to prohibit him from using any function that prevented a device from retaining Internet browsing history, including Incognito mode or in private browsing.

Following a home visit by police to his home where he lived with his parents they discovered he had been using the Internet’s Incognito mode.

He admitted the offence saying he had done it to cover up his viewing of online pornography as he didn’t want it associated with his parents’ address, Taunton Crown Court was told.

Matthews, 41, of Norton Close, pleaded guilty to a charge that on March 8 2017, at Shepton Mallet he used a computer using “in private” browsing mode while online to view the Internet so no internet history was retained, which he was prohibited from doing by a Sexual Harm Prevention Order made at Taunton Crown Court on March 18, 2016.

Rebecca Bradberry, prosecuting, said that the defendant had been made subject to the order following his conviction for possession of indecent images and three matters of outraging public decency.

“During interview he said he used the mode to hide his use of pornography from others as he was ashamed of it because it was part of his old offending behaviour.

“He also said he used it so his parents’ address was not associated with the viewing of pornography, and to justify what he was doing.”

He also admitted that he had been chatting with people online, which he was also prohibited from doing.

Defending, Joseph Wright argued that justice would not be served by activating the suspended prison sentence.

“He is just days away from the end of the original order,” he said. “He made full admissions when he was interviewed by police. It was a very foolish decision on his part, but since he admitted the offences, there have been significant changes in his attitude.”

Sentencing, Judge Paul Cook said: “The order was imposed because you had, on your computer, over 59,000 indecent images of children.
“The fact is, this protective order that was put into place for good reason. You had been looking at indecent images of children and the order was in place so the police could monitor your Internet activity.

“This was a deliberate and planned course by you to hide your activities from the police. You took the deliberate decision to breach that order. The offending is so serious that it cannot be dealt with by a community penalty.”

Matthews was given a combined sentence of six months in prison and will have to pay a £115 victim surcharge.

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