A sex offender shared indecent images of children with other paedophiles using Play Station devices in breach of his registration requirements.

Durham Crown Court was told police executed a search warrant at David Roberts’ home in Peterlee, in October, having received information he may have been involved in sexual communication with a child.

Christopher Bevan, prosecuting, said although police have since confirmed they are not pursuing the alleged sexual communication matters, officers located several devices, including a number of Play Stations, plus bank cards, in a search of Roberts’ home.

Mr Bevan said one of the bank cards was in the name of an alias not registered with the police, putting Roberts in breach of his sex offenders’ registration requirements.

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Roberts also used aliases on the Play Stations, none of which he registered with the police.

Analysis of the contents of the Play Stations revealed 281 indecent images of children, 70 in the most serious category, plus 39 others classed as prohibited images.

Mr Bevan said it emerged Roberts had used the alias 'Sandy Sorebottom' to communicate in, “a sexually unpleasant way” with one user and discussing children with another, conversations initiated by him between July 11 and October 14, last year.

Some of the indecent and prohibited images were sent to that profile.

When interviewed, Roberts largely gave “no comment” replies to police, but he did concede the use of the alias to acquire the bank card constituted an offence.

The 50-year-old defendant, of Stafford Place, Peterlee, admitted three charges of possessing indecent images of children, one of possessing prohibited images of children, two counts of failing to comply with registration requirements as a sex offender and one of distribution of an indecent photo of a child.

Mr Bevan said the defendant has five convictions for 16 previous offences, five of them of a sexual nature.

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The last of those was in 2005 for which he received jail sentences totalling 84 months for offences of sexual activity with a child and taking indecent photographs of a child.

He was also made subject of indefinite notification requirements as a sex offender when sentenced.

Shada Mellor, in mitigation, said it had to be acknowledged his past conviction aggravated the sentence Roberts would receive.

Miss Mellor said the bank card which breached the notification requirements was in the name of Roberts’ now late mother, over whom he had power of attorney, and which he had failed to register with the police.

“He understands he should have registered that but his intention in having it was merely to go to the shops to buy groceries for himself and his mother, who died very recently.

“He understands, given his previous convictions, as well as the offences he falls to be sentenced for, that a custodial sentence is inevitable in this case.

“The previous offence was in 2005, and this is his first offence in 17 years.

“After the 2005 sentence he did make attempts to rehabilitate himself, passing his driving test and being involved in a relationship with an adult female from 2012 to 2016.

“But six or seven years ago he became full-time carer for his mother, who had dementia and who, unfortunately, passed away on December 28.”

Miss Mellor said the emotional distress, isolation and strain all contributed to him committing the latest offences.

She added that he hopes, in due course, to be able to address his behaviour.

Judge Jo Kidd said she has seen descriptions of the images shared by the defendant, including the rape of children as young as three, while the use of the Play Station platform to communicate with like-minded individuals, “significantly aggravated” his position.

Read next:

               County Durham sex offender guilty of 'persistent' court order breaches

               County Durham man convicted of child rapes sentenced as 'offender of concern'

               County Durham sex offender forgot to re-register with police

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She said despite his past conviction, the defendant appeared to have maintained his sexual interest in children.

Imposing a 32-month prison sentence, she said the existing indefinite requirement to register as a sex offender would remain in place.

She also adjourned for inquiries as to the further prohibitions she could put in place under the terms of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.