A sex offender risked the activation of a suspended prison sentence by using an online messaging service in breach of a court order.

Ethan Isaac Scott was made subject of a ten-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) when he was convicted for possessing more than 300 indecent images of children at Durham Crown Court, in December 2021.

The court heard that when confronted by police about the images he claimed he had them as he had been working as a “paedo-hunter” at the time, posing online as a girl to lure paedophiles.

As he went on to admit the offences at his first court appearance and had a previous clean record, he was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Read more: County Durham teen said he was trying to catch paedophiles

But he was ordered to attend a sex offender treatment programme and complete 40 rehabilitation activity days working with the Probation Service as part of the sentence.

Scott was back before the court today (Thursday, July 13) having admitted breaching the terms of the SHPO, putting him in breach of the suspended sentence order.

Cainan Lonsdale, prosecuting, said following the conviction in December 2021, Scott was subject of checks by his offender manager to ensure he was complying with the order.

When he was visited on October 14 last year it was discovered he had been using Snapchat three times in the early hours that morning, having not disclosed his use of the site, in breach of the terms of the SHPO.

Mr Lonsdale said further inspection showed he had a different password for an online gaming app, Discord, which he had accessed on August 22, last year.

When questioned about the breaches he provided a pre-prepared statement to police claiming he did not realise they were breaches of the SHPO.

But, appearing before magistrates recently, the, now, 22-year-old defendant, of Ushaw Villas, Ushaw Moor, admitted breaching the SHPO.

The case was sent for sentence to the crown court as it put the defendant in breach of the previous suspended sentence order.

Read more: County Durham sex offender back behind bars for court breach

Duncan McReddie, in mitigation, said despite what he initially told police, the defendant, again, made early admissions when he appeared at the lower court.

Mr McReddie said his client has suffered serious ill-health on top of pre-existing conditions for which he has undergone surgery, having been diagnosed with meningitis and pneumonia.

“It’s clear this young man had a condition rendering his ability to think straight being impaired.”

Mr McReddie said since undergoing a second round of surgery in February, Scott has been permitted to have Discord, predominantly a gaming app, on his devices and there has been no suggestion further offending since then.

He said the defendant had also “engaged well” with the Probation Service.

Judge Jo Kidd told Scott that his appearance back in the dock should, “act as a great warning” to him that he must comply by the terms of court orders.

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She imposed a £100 fine to mark the breach of the suspended sentence, and for the breach of the SHPO she passed a further eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, during which Scott must undergo 40 more rehabilitation activity days with the Probation Service.

Judge Kidd warned him, however: “If you commit further offences during the service of the suspended sentence order I’ll reserve the breach to myself.

“You know what you need to do, and you know what will happen if you breach it again, because I’ll send you to prison.”