A convicted sex offender has been jailed after he contacted a number of under-16 girls from a secret digital tablet.

Anthony Metcalfe adopted an alias in conversations with the girls on Snapchat from his home in an outhouse behind a relative’s address in Hartlepool.

The 34-year-old, who was a registered sex offender for life since he was convicted in 2015 of three sexual assaults on children, messaged the youngsters with comments, including ‘nice bum’ and ‘beautiful’.

His ban on contact with children was from a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) which was also imposed in 2015 and he was later jailed for 16 months for breaching it five times, Teesside Crown Court heard.

Rachel Masters, prosecuting, said Metcalfe’s illicit tablet was discovered by police during a visit from his police offending manager on May 10.

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She said the defendant had a list of names he classed as Snapchat friends and checks identified six were under 16 – two were aged 15, three were aged 13 and one was aged just 12.

“Direct messages had been sent to them such as ‘nice bum’ and ‘beautiful’ and this contact places him in breach of his sexual harm prevention order,” she added.

The court heard how the defendant had 25 convictions for 47 offences, including failing to tell a mother he was visiting at her home that he was a convicted sex offender.

Metcalfe, of Willow Walk, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to six breaches of SHPO and two breaches of his notification requirements.

The Northern Echo: Anthony MetcalfeAnthony Metcalfe (Image: Cleveland Police)

Stephen Constantine, in mitigation, said his client could have an underlying mental health condition which he had hidden for a number of years.

He added: “The only real mitigation in this case is his guilty pleas to each count – given at the earliest opportunity.

“It is clear from the pre-sentence report that there may well be an underlying mental health issue.”

Judge Howard Crowson sentenced Metcalfe to two years and eight months for the breaches.

He said: “Given your history, I have a real anxiety about the risk that you pose. These are serious and persistent breaches, contact with six different children, some really young and at risk of very serious harm.”

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