April 2019

Sex offender burned phone before police could seize it

A convicted sex offender has been jailed for throwing his mobile phone into a wood burning stove to prevent the police finding illegal child images on it.

Phillip Thompson was being monitored by child protection officers because he is on the sex offenders’ register and has previously accessed child abuse material on the internet.

An officer was carrying out a routine check at his home in Newton Abbot in February when they noticed a suspicious search term in the browsing history on his phone.

Before the female officer could investigate further, Thompson grabbed the handset and flung it into the flames, where it was destroyed completely.

He was required to hand over the phone under a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SHPO) imposed when he was sent on a sex offenders course at Exeter Crown Court in August 2017.

Thompson, aged 60, of Sandringham Road, Newton Abbot, admitted breaching the SHPO and was jailed for six months by Judge Peter Johnson at Exeter Crown Court.

He told him: ‘When the officer visited your house at lunchtime, she queried one of the search terms on your phone and you grabbed it an ultimately threw it into the stove. 

‘There is an obvious inference as to why you did that. This was a serious and deliberate breach of the order.’

Mr Brian Fitzherbert, prosecuting, said a community order imposed in 2017 had just ended but Thompson’s police offender manager continued to make regular visits to his home.

The incident happened on February 19 this year when the officer spotted the search term ‘9-11’ in the browsing history and suspected he may have been downloading child images.

He destroyed the phone in the stove and later told police he had been accessing adult pornography when a pop-up link had taken him to a site which contained child images as well as extreme pornography.

He said he then received threats from Russia to expose him unless he paid them money. His story could not be verified or disproved because the phone had been destroyed.

Mr Jeff Segan, defending, said Thompson had benefited from the course he had undertaken and it has equipped him to turn his life around and not to reoffend.

He said the chief focus of his life is his two dogs and he is worried about what will happen to them if he were sent to prison.

In the earlier case, Thompson was found with 72 images on his phone, all at the lowest level and showing sexual posing rather than any sexual activity.