October 2018

Paedophile caught watching porn and pleasuring himself in car claimed he was ‘only fidgeting’

A paedophile was caught watching pornography and performing a sex act on himself while sat in his car on a busy street, a court has heard.

A woman walking down the road saw what Ashley Grant Thomas was up to, and confronted him.

When police subsequently tracked him down, the 29-year-old denied he was pleasuring himself – and claimed he had been “fidgeting”.

Officers found he had also breached a sexual harm prevention order by deleting internet search histories, and by possessing an iPad he had not told them about.

Swansea Crown Court heard Thomas was caught red-handed in his car on Uplands Crescent, Uplands, Swansea, on March 14.

Helen Randall, prosecuting, said the female passerby was so disgusted by his actions she confronted him. Thomas drove away, but the woman was able to make a note of his car’s registration and reported the matter to the police.

When officers went to the defendant’s house, they seized a number of electronic devices, including an iPad which he had not informed them about. They also found he had been deleting his internet search histories, something he is banned from doing under the order.

During his interview, Thomas denied he had been performing a sex act on himself, saying he had been sat in the car with his arms folded across his chest and “had only been fidgeting”.

Thomas, of Llys Pentefelin, Llangyfelach, Swansea, pleaded guilty to outraging public decency – contrary to Common Law – and breaching a sexual harm prevention order.

He appeared in court on Friday to be sentenced.

The court heard he had been made the subject of the prevention order in 2015 after being convicted of possessing indecent images of children.

Judge Paul Thomas QC described Thomas’ behaviour in Uplands and “disgusting” and “perverted”, and said it was fortunate it had been a mature woman rather than a young child who had seen him.

He told the defendant he had deliberately breached the sexual harm prevention order, and prior to reading the pre-sentence report had thought an immediate prison sentence was hard to avoid.

But having read the probation report, which said that Thomas had finally accepted he had a sexual interest in children, he was persuaded not to jail him.

The judge said his duty was to protect the public and prevent future re-offending, and he could either send Thomas straight to prison – from where he would emerge “the same man or possibly a worse man” given the kind of people he would be associating with behind bars – or allow the probation and other services to continue to work with him.

The defendant was sentenced to a three year community order with a rehabilitation course, and was made the subject of a five-year sexual harm prevention order. He will be on the sex offenders register for the next five years.

Judge Thomas told him: “If there is any future breaching by you of the sexual harm prevention order, you will receive a sentence measured in years.”