Burnley sex offender dropped his phone in water in bid to destroy evidence
A pervert who tried to destroy evidence by asking police for a glass of water and then dunking his phone in it has been given a community order.
Burnley Crown Court Andrew Philip Lofthouse’s phone and laptop not only contained 72 indecent images of children but that he had also set up a drop box folder so that other sex offenders could access the abusive material.
Prosecuting, Jane Dagnall said that when police seized Lofthouse’s electronic devices they also found an extreme pornographic image featuring the abuse of a dog. They also found evidence of internet search terms such as ‘pre-teen’ and ‘jail bait’.
The court heard how police raided Lofthouse’s Burnley home in May 2016 after receiving information that a drop box had been set up allowing people to access child pornography.
Judge Philip Parry said: “You knew full well what you had been doing was wrong. While the police were speaking to you and searching your home you asked for a glass of water and you promptly put your phone into it in order to destroy the indecent images you knew were on there. That was a deliberate effort from you to destroy evidence.”
The court heard that Lofthouse, 29, of Arnold Close, Burnley, had set up the drop box in a bid to make friends online with fellow sex offenders.
He pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent images of children, one count of distributing indecent images of children and one count of possessing an extreme pornographic image.
Sentencing Lofthouse to a three-year community order Judge Philip Parry said allowing the defendant to work with the probation service to address his offending was the best way of protecting the public.
Judge Parry added: “You should know, Andrew Lofthouse, that people like you who seek out, obtain and share indecent images are fuelling child sex abuse.
“These offences have to be committed in real life for people like you to see the end product. People like you continue to fuel the growth of child sexual abuse when you seek to download it, when you get a thrill from it and when you try to pass it on to other people. That is why these cases are always treated very seriously the courts.”
Lofthouse was made subject of a five year sexual harm prevention order and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register for five years. He must also attend an accredited sex offender treatment programme for 40 days and complete a 20 day rehabilitation activity requirement.