A man being monitored while on an interim sexual risk order admitted asking for indecent images of children from fellow chat room users.

Gary Bishop, 65, was seen by a police officer making surveillance checks in August and October 2022, as he was subject of the interim order, which was put in place due to his, “suspicious behaviour”.

Durham Crown Court heard that on neither of those visits was his phone examined, but on a further monitoring visit, on January 13, last year, his phone was seized to be checked.

Celine Kart, prosecuting, said, before the device was removed from him, Bishop was asked if it may be found to contain anything suspicious and he replied that there may have been an indecent image of a child sent by an unknown third party, which he had deleted.

Miss Kart said in due course it was examined and it was discovered he had been engaging in chat room conversations discussing one particular underage girl and that he had also obtained indecent images.

The Northern Echo:

Officers, therefore, went to Bishop’s home, where they cautioned and arrested him, but he gave no answers to police questioning.

Miss Kart said the aggravating factors were that he was subject to the sexual risk order at the time, while the ages of the children featured in the images were six, eight and between 10 and 13.

Bishop was in possession of those images between July and December, in 2022, while subject of monitoring checks and had made attempts to conceal them.

The chat messages revealed he had requested the images from other users of the application he was on at the time.

The Northern Echo:

Bishop, denied three charges when he first came before the court, in August last year.

On the day of his scheduled trial, on January 29 this year, he admitted a single count of making indecent images of a child, relating to ten photos in category C of severity.

Miss Kart said that plea was considered “acceptable” to the Crown.

Andrew Stranex, for the defendant, told the court he had been subject to drug intervention for some time when the offences were committed, but he added: “His instructions through me are that he is very sorry for what he has done.”

Judge Jo Kidd told Bishop his offending took place despite the fact he was subject of the sexual risk order.

“That was due to the concerning nature of sexual chat with others you were involved with at the time.”

She said the offence crossed the custody threshold, but due to the defendant’s lack of previous convictions and his “frank and open” response to the Probation Service preparing a report for the court, she could suspend the sentence.

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Judge Kidd imposed a three-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, during which Bishop must take part in 35 rehabilitation activity days and comply with a six-month drug rehabilitation requirement.

He was also ordered to perform 60 hours’ of unpaid work for the community.

Bishop will now be subject of notification requirements as a sex offender, plus restrictions under a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, both for seven years.