March 2018

Sex offender returns to prison to continue 12-year sentence

A sex offender returned to prison to continue a 12-year sentence after “a good piece of detective work” revealed he had flouted court orders while living as a free man.

Keith Ritchie, 42, moved to Teesside after he was released from prison, having served half of a 12-year jail term imposed at Warwick Crown Court in 2011.

He was on licence and meant to abide by a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) and conditions as a registered sex offender to notify police of name and address changes.

“The police checked on you as they were required to do so,” said Judge Stephen Ashurst at Teesside Crown Court on Wednesday.

“A good piece of detective work uncovered that you had been using a false name.”

Investigations revealed Ritchie had contacted a young girl via social media and letter. The correspondence was not threatening and Ritchie said he had good intentions.

But the judge told him: “The fact remains you must have known that contacting her was in direct breach of the SOPO.

“And the fact you had adopted a false name as effectively an alias put you in breach of your notification requirements.

“As a result of your contact with her or attempts to contact her, you’ve been recalled to serve the balance of your sentence.

“Any sentence I impose today will have to run from today.”

Ritchie, of West View Road, Hartlepool, admitted three breaches of the SOPO and failing to comply with notification requirements as a sex offender in October and November last year.

He appeared in court for sentence via video link to Durham Prison.

Given Ritchie’s early guilty pleas and the short space of time over which the offences were committed, the judge jailed Ritchie for one year.

Judge Ashurst added: “You should take the sentence today as a very severe warning about the dangers of breaching a SOPO.

“It’s at the end of the day put in there not only for the protection of the children concerned but also to protect you in future.

“You’d be well advised to stick to the terms of the order.”

He said Ritchie’s eventual release from the 12-year sentence would be a matter for the Parole Board.