October 2018

Sex offender was NOT breaking the law by taking sneaky pictures of young girls in shopping centre

A court has said that a convicted paedophile was not breaking the law when he sneakily took pictures of young girls in a shopping centre during the summer holidays.

Pervert Robert Hart had been released on licence part way through a ten-year prison sentence for making indecent images of children.

The 46-year-old was spotted at The Bridges shopping centre,in Sunderland, where he had two digital cameras and a mobile phone.

A court heard he took “numerous photographs” of “young females” he did not know.

When challenged by police, he handed over a camera containing the images.

Newcastle Crown Court heard he had not committed an offence in relation to those, but he failed to immediately disclose he had a second camera in his possession.

Although the second camera contained no pictures of children, his failure to immediately disclose its existence put him in breach of a sexual offences prevention order.

Now Hart, who has been recalled to prison on the ten-year sentence, has been jailed for a year.

The court heard it was early afternoon on August 2 when he was spotted at the shopping mall and identified on CCTV as a registered sex offender.

Neil Pallister, prosecuting, said: “A police officer was approached by a young female who said a male had been taking pictures of her and some children in the shopping centre, without consent.

“She pointed out the defendant and he was taken to one side by the officer and asked if he had any electronic devices on his person.

“He volunteered a mobile phone and a camera which he said had just found.

“When that was looked at by the officer, it contained numerous images of young females, which had been taken from a distance without their consent.”

Hart was arrested and when he was searched he was found to have the second camera.

Mr Pallister said: “That put him in breach of one of the prohibitions of a sexual offences prevention order. He was prohibited from possessing a device capable of storing digital images unless he made the device available for inspection by a police officer.

“He did not initially disclose that to the police when asked.”

Hart, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to breaching the sexual offences prevention order, which had been imposed in 2013 for five years.

The court heard he has 51 previous convictions, including five for sex offences.

He was jailed for ten years in July 2014 for making indecent images of children – a sentence he has now been recalled to prison to serve.

Recorder Margia Mostafa said: “I find the facts of this case alarming.

“You knew the conditions you were under to protect the public.

“The police officer saw numerous images of young females. I’m not told how many images but those images ought not to have been taken, while it’s not a criminal offence.”

July 2014

Already convicted paedophile jailed for secretly filming children – Had more than 1,000 indecent images in his home

The judge told Robert Hart, who has previous convictions for indecent assault and possession of indecent images dating back to 1990, that he would not be doing his “duty to society” if he did not lock him up.

The 42-year-old, of The Royalty, Sunderland, was arrested after two laptops and a handheld camera were uncovered from his home.

Mr Kevin Wardlaw, prosecuting said: “He denied having any other recordable devices at that time, which put him in breach of a sexual offences order previously imposed against him.”

The laptops and camera contained a series of indecent images and videos of varying degrees of seriousness. Mr Wardlaw said: “The handheld camera contained footage of a girl of about eight years old wearing a pair of shorts.

“The defendant admitted that there would be footage of school kids on the camera which he had recorded, for the buzz, but not a sexual buzz.

“Other like footage was also recovered from one of the laptops.” When police returned to Hart’s home days later, they also recovered the memory card from a Freeview box which contained a further 1,554 images.

Mr Jamie Adams, defending, said: “By comparison to what he has done in the past, these images are not as serious, by a long, long way.

“One way or another, he will work to sort his offending out.”

Hart admitted possession of indecent images and the breach of a sexual offences prevention order.

Judge Christopher Prince told him: “You appear to deflect responsibility for your behaviour and you have a very low level of victim empathy.

“You have a strong sexual interest in children and there is a significant risk that you will cause serious harm to young persons in the future by further offending.”

Judge Prince jailed Hart for two years and told him that his license period on release would be extended to eight years.

March 2014

Sunderland paedophile filmed children on the metro

A PAEDOPHILE is facing jail after filming children on the Metro.

Robert Hart secretly shot the footage, which was found on a memory card at his Sunderland home.

Although the images were seemingly innocent, a court heard that the act placed him in breach of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Sunderland magistrates were told that the 43-year-old was banned from owning equipment which could store digital images.

But a check at his home revealed he had bought video cameras and an iPod.

Keith Laidlaw, prosecuting, said the five-year order was imposed by the court in December last year.

Hart was found to have flouted it when police visited his house in The Royalty last Sunday.

Officers had to bang on the door and shout through the letterbox before he let them in, when he confessed to having two video cameras and an MP3 player.

Police searched the house and found two memory cards under a bedroom cabinet, one containing images of children and adults on the train.

Mr Laidlaw said: “He said he had bought the cameras from a car boot sale about two weeks before and bought the iPod three months ago.

“He had taken photographs of girls on the Metro system about a week previously.

“He said he might have knocked the memory cards off a bedside table and thought he had hoovered them up.

“He denied having hidden them under the bedside table while the police were at the door.” Hart pleaded guilty to the offence.

Brian Chapman, defending, said no abusive images had been found, and Hart had not taken part in abuse.

He was originally convicted after taking photos of girls walking to school and had a number of convictions for possessing indecent images of children.

District Judge Roger Elsey remanded Hart in custody, to be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court.

He said: “Any breach of a court order is a serious matter. Breaching a Sopo is a very serious matter, and the offence is aggravated by your substantial list of previous convictions.

“Having regard to the circumstances, it seems to me the sentence that is appropriate is beyond the confines of this court.”

Hart will appear at court in the week of April 14.