A SEX offender was jailed for failing to disclose possession of a computer with software capable of erasing the history of its use.

Alexander Richardson, 33, was made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) after being convicted in March last year for downloading more than 10,000 indecent images of children, for which he received a two-year community order.

Under the terms of the order he was expected to disclose details of any device capable of accessing the internet.

Durham Crown Court heard he was subject of an unannounced visit to his home by the police public protection unit on June 8, when he claimed to have only mobile phones.

Anthony Pettengell, prosecuting, said when he was told a search would be made of the router for evidence of other devices, Richardson admitted having a second-hand laptop.

He claimed to have bought it since the previous monitoring visit, either shortly before or just after Christmas.

But he claimed to have forgotten about further visits and revealed he accessed ‘eraser’ software to wipe details of usage.

It emerged he used it 13 times in the previous month, even on the morning of the visit.

Richardson claimed he used the name ‘Tears of Puppies’ to access a poker gambling site.

Use of an alias was also forbidden under the terms of the SHPO.

Richardson, 33, of Castlefields, Bournmoor, near Chester-le-Street, admitting breaching four terms of the SHPO.

Lewis Kerr, in mitigation, said recent examination of the laptop has failed to come up with information to suggest Richardson had used the internet for any illegal purpose.

But Judge Ray Singh said there was “a clear and justifiable inference” he used the software to cover up similar activity for which he was convicted last year.

“Why, otherwise, would he have the software programme on his computer?”

Mr Kerr said the defendant was “a private person” and wanted to protect details of his finances, adding, however: “But we only have his word for that.”

Judge Singh said they were, “deliberate and significant breaches” and imposed a 16-month prison sentence.

Richardson will continue to be subject to of both registration as a sex offender and the terms of the SHPO, for ten years.