A FORMER social worker has been jailed over possession of indecent images of children, in breach of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order imposed for similar offending.

Shaun Devlin was struck off by the Health and Care Professions’ Tribunal Service in 2018 following his first conviction for possessing indecent images.

The former Durham County Council employee, a social worker with the authority from 2002, was convicted earlier in 2018 of four charges relating to images he found and viewed via the so-called ‘dark web’, between 2014 and 2017.

He was sacked after disciplinary procedures once the council was informed of the offending by police.

Devlin was given a three-year community order and was made subject of a five-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO), when sentenced in March 2018.

The 52-year-old was back before Newcastle Crown Court for sentence yesterday after recently admitting three further counts of making indecent photographs of a child and breach of the SHPO.

Omar Ahmad, prosecuting, said police went to his home in March 2019 to conduct a risk review.

Devlin was asked if he had any devices capable of accessing the internet or a mobile phone.

He claimed his phone was being repaired and said he had no other devices, but in a search a phone capable of accessing the internet was found in his bedroom.

Devlin admitted it belonged to him and said it contained two indecent images of children.

Further examination revealed 18 such images, seven in the most serious category featuring children as young as four being sexually abused by adults.

Only two videos were accessible, as the other images had been deleted, which, itself, was a breach of the SHPO.

Devlin, of Harehills Tower, Kenton, Newcastle, made full admissions in interview.

The court heard the case has been delayed progressing through the court due to a backlog caused by the pandemic.

Jennifer Coxon, in mitigation, said Devlin has used the time well to improve his life, returning to full-time work, having secured a job with Nissan, while working with an agency to address his offending.

The court heard he is rated a low risk of a contact offence involving children, but a higher risk of repeating offending relating to indecent images of children.

Miss Coxon urged Judge Edward Bindloss to pass a suspended prison sentence to enable the defendant to make continued progress addressing his behaviour.

But the judge said the breach, “so soon after the previous order was made”, was, “serious, persistent and wasn’t a one-off transitory thing.”

Imposing a 12-month prison sentence the judge also made Devlin subject of notification requirements as a sex offender and the terms of a new SHPO, both for ten years.

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