Devices seized from a former university health and safety advisor as part of an online child abuse image inquiry, have been the subject of a further police investigation.

Jeffrey Mein was jailed at Newcastle Crown Court in April 2022 after admitting making (downloading) and distributing indecent images of children, plus possession of prohibited images of children.

Further offences of voyeurism and possessing extreme pornography were also admitted by Mein, who lost his health and safety job with Durham University as a result of the conviction.

He was said to have shared some of the offending images over the internet over a four-year period.

Mein was also made subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) and registration as a sex offender, both for ten years, as part of the 2022 sentence.

Durham Crown Court heard that devices seized as part of the inquiry that led to the 2022 conviction were subsequently handed back by police to the defendant’s wife.

The Northern Echo: Sex offender Jeffrey Mein facing a further jail term when he is sentenced at Durham Crown Court

She, in turn, returned them to Mein when he ended the custodial element of his 32-month prison sentence.

But the court heard he then failed to declare those same devices as being in his ownership to his supervising officer monitoring him as part of his licence conditions.

When a detective visited Mein’s address in January to assess his ongoing risk management he was found to be using a USB stick in a laptop which he had failed to register with police.

Seven SD memory cards, 11 micro memory cards, five external hard drives and a mobile phone capable of accessing the internet were also located within the property.

Mein was arrested and admitted to being in breach of his 2022 SHPO, and so was recalled to prison.

The 60-year-old defendant, of Cochrane Terrace, Ferryhill, appeared at the crown court again today (Monday, March 25), by video link from nearby Durham Prison, to be sentenced for the SHPO breaches.

The Northern Echo:

Ellen Wright, prosecuting, said following examination of the contents of the seized devices, since the last hearing, there are now no additional charges arising.

“The devices have been downloaded and nothing illegal was found on them.”

She said in relation to the secondary issue of how they came to be in Mein’s possession, again, the statement of the defendant’s wife has been verified by police involved in the 2022 investigation.

“The police said they did hand them to his wife and she has provided them to the defendant.”

Martin Towers, for Mein, said the Probation Service was awaiting the outcome of today’s (Monday, March 25) hearing before it makes a recommendation as to the length of time he should be detained on his prison recall.

“I’m going to suggest to the court it was a negligent error (in failing to declare the devices) rather than something sinister.

“He’s already served two months back in custody on recall.

“The remorse he has expressed is mentioned in his offender manager’s report and the progress he had been making was genuine.

“Obviously, the Probation Service was suspicious, but this case is now very much less serious than it may have originally seemed to the court.

“He’s (the defendant) trying to put his life back together to be thoroughly rehabilitated.”

Recorder Tom Moran told Mein: “Contrary to what was thought to be the position, those devices did not contain anything illegal on them and the prosecution accepts the circumstances by which you obtained them were somewhat unusual.

“They were returned to your wife and she returned them to you, and none of them appear to have been used by you since their return to you.

“I have no reason to doubt what your wife said.

“It’s of significance that the person supervising you was greatly surprised about the offences, given you have responded so well.

“It seems that this was not a sinister breach and more of a negligent breach.”

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Recorder Moran, therefore, imposed a 12-month community order with 15 more rehabilitation activity days for Mein to work with the Probation Service.

But he also ordered forfeiture of the recovered devices, and this time, their destruction.

He reminded Mein that the terms of the 2022 SHPO remain in place, until 2032.