September 2018

Former nurse and sex offender didn’t disclose credit card detail – and ended up back in court

James Hitch from Stockton

A sex offender ended up back in court – for not telling police the expiry date on his credit card.

Former nurse James Hitch, 36, avoided jail “by a whisker” in March as he was given a suspended 18-month prison sentence for making indecent pictures of children.

Police had found 754 disturbing images of children after seizing a hard drive, tower computer, tablet and notebook from Hitch’s home in August last year.

The former care home worker and St John Ambulance volunteer confessed he got addicted to “all types of pornography” and downloaded hundreds of images for years.

He searched the internet with terms like “paedo”, and told officers he “wasn’t fussy” about the ages of people in the sexual pictures, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Hitch, of Dovecot Street, Stockton, was back in court on Tuesday, having admitted failing to comply with notification requirements as a sex offender on the register for 10 years.

Alex Bousfield, defending, said: “It’s a largely technical offence.

“Apparently he failed to provide the expiry date on the card. He did notify the police of the card number, which didn’t change when it was reissued.

“I’m not entirely convinced I’d have taken the course that’s been taken. It’s really a case of marking this offence.”

He said Hitch had taken up new accommodation and was on employment support allowance.

A judge, Recorder Gurdial Singh, said: “The report says that everything is going well on the order in terms of his compliance, save for this particular aberration.”

He told Hitch: “I think this is your third breach. It may be a very technical one. You’re fast acquiring a record for being in breach of that order. You really have to be careful.

“The next breach isn’t going to be treated so leniently.

“You’ve complied with the order. I’ve seen a report which says you’re doing very well. Keep that up.”

He fined Hitch £50.

In March the court heard how Hitch was caught in a “spin-off” from a Bedfordshire Police investigation and admitted three charges of making indecent pictures of children, his first conviction.

Nick Lane, defending at the original sentencing hearing, said: “He is thoroughly ashamed of what he has done and he wishes to put this behind him and to return to being a proper member of society.”

He said Hitch had worked in a care home for the elderly, trained as a nurse and worked locally in the NHS, but had a breakdown in 2013 and lost his job in 2015.

The sentencing judge, Recorder Bryan Cox QC, decided not to jail Hitch because of his early guilty pleas, frankness, previous good character and motivation to tackle his offending.

Hitch was given an 18-month prison sentence suspended for two years with a sex offender programme and 30 days’ rehabilitation activity.

Hitch was given an indefinite sexual harm prevention order banning him from unsupervised contact with girls under 16 and governing his use of the internet and devices.