• Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

Grove sex offender breached order within weeks of suspended sentence


Sep 6, 2022

A judge said he was ‘extremely suspicious’ about the activities of a retired scientist who breached a court order within weeks of its imposition.

Recorder John Ryder QC, who gave John Jones a two year suspended jail sentence in June for having half a million indecent images of children, had suspicions that the 67-year-old was ‘manipulatively testing the police’.

Jones had called-up Thames Valley Police in July to tell them he had bought a new computer. When a specialist constable checked the PC, she noticed file-cleaning software on the desktop and a pornographic image of a grown woman.

The officer returned three days later with a colleague. Jones was arrested for breaching the sexual harm prevention order he was given in June, as he had not been given permission by the police to have the file-wiping software.

Adjourning sentence for a probation officer to visit Jones in HMP Bullingdon and quiz the sex offender, Recorder Ryder said: “I am extremely suspicious that you deceitfully and manipulatively were testing the police.

“It seems to me – and this is not proven – that you might quite deliberately have downloaded certain [items], including the apparently lawful albeit somewhat obscene image of an adult woman, again inviting the police to come and check your computer to determine what their response was likely to have been.

“Because, as I’ve said, the image was lawful, you may well have realised that there was no possibility of having been charged with an offence.

“Now, I do not know whether or not your conduct fell into that category or whether it was, however unlikely it may seem, if not innocent then uncontrived.”

Earlier, prosecutor Alice Aubrey-Fletcher told Oxford Crown Court that an officer from the public protection unit at Thames Valley Police gave Jones a copy of his sexual harm prevention order on June 21, two weeks after it was imposed by Recorder Ryder.

“She wasn’t able to go through the specific terms with the defendant as she was extremely busy at the time, but did make him aware of the need to check any of the conditions he didn’t understand with her if he wasn’t sure,” the barrister said.

On July 12, he contacted the unit and said he was planning to set up a new desktop computer that day. He was told the police would need to install ‘risk management software’.

Four days later, the officer came to his flat in order to install the monitoring programme. As she did so, she noticed an icon on the desktop for a ‘file cleaning’ programme, BleachBit, which he was not allowed under the terms of his order.

Also on the computer – although no charges had been brought in relation to them – was a programme that can be used as a ‘private browser’ to hide internet history, an entry in his internet search history for a search engine that can be used to access the ‘dark web’, and a pornographic picture apparently downloaded from website Imgur.

The police officer returned on July 19 with a colleague and Jones was arrested for having the file cleaning software.

In interview, he admitted downloading the software as he set-up his new computer, but said he ‘hadn’t tried to be deceptive and it was a genuine mistake’.

Jones, of Millbrook Square, Grove, pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court in July to breaching the order. Aside from his conviction in June, he was of previous good character.

He was remanded in custody to be sentenced on October 7. An update was ordered from the probation service.

Read more from this author

This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward