A SEX offender, who twice denied to police that he owned a mobile phone, had been accessing internet sites online, using aliases, in breach of a court order.

Steven Watson was made subject of prohibitions relating to his use of the internet as part of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO), imposed for offences committed in 2011.

The order was replaced by the newly introduced Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO), superseding SOPOs, in March 2015.

But Watson was back in court after being found to have breached the order and his notification requirements as a sex offender.

It followed an unannounced visit by police to Watson’s home in August 2020, when he claimed to have lost his mobile phone, after being asked to produce it for examination.

Durham Crown Court was told that more than seven weeks later he again told police he did not have a mobile phone, but claimed he planned to acquire one shortly afterwards.

Police phoned him by landline in October 2020, to inform him his annual registration as a sex offender was imminent.

But days later an anonymous caller told police Watson had met a woman in Upon his subsequent arrest he showed police a mobile phone which he claimed to have been in possession of, for only a matter of days,

That phone was examined and evidence of him making searches for pornography emerged.

Watson admitted he had been looking at teenage pornography, but claimed it was available on legally-permitted sites.

Prosecuting counsel Katie Spence said it transpired that Watson had used various aliases, in breach of the SHPO, in making online searches.

Watson finally confessed that he had owned a phone for much longer than he had previously told police.

He claimed that in accessing dating sites he sometimes forgot password information and so created new details.

The 39-year-old defendant, who has been living at a charity-run men’s hostel in Plawsworth, near Chester-le-Street, admitted doing acts in breach of the SHPO and failing to comply with the notification requirements as a sex offender.

Judge Ray Singh, who described them as, “persistent breaches”, imposed concurrent prison sentences of 32 months.

Watson will remain subject of the orders on release.

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