Millfield Convicted Child Groomer avoids prison after being caught breaching Police order

A Millfield convicted sex offender has avoided prison after he kept a secret phone hidden from the police because he did not want his girlfriend to find out about his past.

Christopher Penman, 35, has to register his internet enabled devices with the authorities and make them available for inspection to comply with the terms of a lifelong sexual harm prevention order.

The order was imposed in August 2017, when he was jailed for 16 months after being caught trying to meet a child after grooming. Newcastle Crown Court heard that earlier this year police officers found a phone Penman had hidden in a car he was using.

Penman had been using the internet enabled handset to keep in contact with his girlfriend, who lived out of the area and was not aware of his conviction. Prosecutor Elisha Marsay told the court Penman had been asked to attend Southwick police station in Sunderland in March for a regular risk review.

His solicitor then contacted the police and asked why he had been asked to go. Miss Marsay said: “When the defendant attended the police asked him how he had managed to contact his solicitor as he had previously indicated to the officer he did not own a phone.

“He said he had used his mother’s landline, but when police officers spoke to the defendant’s mother to corroborate this she denied this had been the case. “The defendant then told the officer he had used a payphone close to his home.

“The differing accounts provided by the defendant raised the officer’s suspicions that he was concealing a mobile device and he was subsequently arrested.” The court heard police then searched Penman’s home and found a receipt for repairs to a car that he was insured to drive.

The car was found 500m from the police station and an internet enabled phone, which contained conversations between Penman and his girlfriend, was in the glove box. Penman, 35, of Tintern Street, Millfield, Sunderland, admitted breach of a sexual harm prevention order. Rachel Kelly, defending, said Penman has been in employment since he was released from prison and is “deeply embarrassed” about his conviction.

Miss Kelly said there was nothing “untoward” on the device and added: “He didn’t want his partner to initially know about his conviction, which is the reason why he didn’t tell the police he had that phone.”

Mr Recorder Ian Mullarkey sentenced Penman to eight months, suspended for 18 months, with rehabilitation requirements, 150 hours unpaid work and £150 costs.

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