A SEX offender who dressed up as Santa and offered to take pictures with children has been jailed. 

Stephen Brown, 40, will be spending Christmas behind bars after he stood near Fenwick's window, in Northumberland Street, Newcastle and offered to pose for pictures in exchange for a donation.

The registered sex offender, who was jailed in 2012 for a string of child sex offences, set up a sign outside the department store encouraging passers-by to have their photo taken with Santa.

Security staff at Fenwick called police because they were concerned about his behaviour. 

Officers checked his details and discovered he was subject to a lifetime Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO).

He was immediately arrested by police in front of a packed Northumberland Street and was later charged with breaching the sexual offences prevention order.

He had been jailed for five years in 2012 for possession of indecent images and inciting a child to engage in a sex act. 

Brown, of Fawdon Lane, Newcastle was jailed for six weeks after Bedlington Magistrates' Court was told it was the second time he had breached the order since being released from prison in January 2017.

The Northern Echo:

Stephen Brown

Chief Inspector Steve Wykes, of Northumbria Police, praised the teamwork between security staff at Fenwicks and officers on patrol in the city.

He said: “Stephen Brown would not have looked out of place on Northumberland Street this weekend dressed as Santa Claus.

“There has been a fantastic atmosphere in the city in the lead up to Christmas and thousands of people were in the area doing their shopping.

“Many people would have walked by Brown and thought that it was perfectly normal for him to be offering people the chance to pose for a picture.

“But security staff at Fenwick knew something wasn’t quite right and have contacted our officers who have checked his details and taken decisive action.

“Brown’s SOPO stated that he was not allowed any contact with children unless he had the consent of a parent or guardian who was aware of his convictions.

The Northern Echo:

The sign Stephen Brown put up to encourage people to have their photos taken

“We believe two people posed for a picture with him but it was clear they had no idea he was a convicted paedophile and he knew what he was doing was wrong.

“He will spend Christmas in prison and I hope that sends a strong message to both Stephen Brown, and anyone else who is subject to a similar order.”

Brown, of Fawdon Lane, Fawdon, Newcastle, was jailed for five years in July 2012 after admitting a string of child sex offences.

A court was told how a teenage girl had contacted police after an anonymous social media account had befriended her and sent a string of sexual messages.

He had encouraged her to perform sex acts and even threatened the schoolgirl when she refused to carry out his demands.

The girl bravely contacted police and officers launched an investigation to identify who the person was behind the anonymous social media account.

Police were quickly able to identify Brown as the user and he was arrested at his home. It was in a search of his home that police then discovered a number of indecent images of children.

He was arrested and convicted of 14 offences including possession of indecent images, making an indecent image and inciting a child to perform a sex act.

Anyone who has concerns about this incident can contact the Newcastle City Centre Neighbourhood Policing Team by emailing newcastlecentral.npt@northumbria.pnn.police.uk.