Sunderland sex offender back in court after mobile phone internet history hidden in ‘accidental mistake’

A convicted Sunderland sex offender who accidentally hid his mobile phone’s internet history has been hauled into court.

By Gareth Crickmer
Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 4:55 am

Robert Greenwood, 40, switched his device to incognito mode, meaning police could not check recent website activity when they visited his home.

Greenwood, of Redmond Road, Hylton Red House, did so in breach of a crown court judge’s orders to keep his viewing in plain sight.

Magistrates in South Tyneside heard prohibitations were placed on him when he was sentenced in 2018 for child sex offences.

South Tyneside Magistrates Court.

He had pleaded guilty to two counts of attempting to cause or incite a child to penetrative sexual activity - and escaped a jail term.

Under the terms of a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO), he is banned from using any device that cannot record his internet activity or can encrypt or hide data.

Prosecutor Clare Irving said his error – accepted by the court as being unintended - was uncovered when a police officer routinely checked his electronic devices.

She added: “The officer went to the defendant’s house on December 9 for a risk review.

“The officer asked the defendant about his internet enabled devices. There was a Galaxy device which was in incognito mode when opened.

“He says that he made a mistake and had pressed the wrong button and had pressed the incognito mode inadvertently.”

Mrs Irving said the discrepancy between the prosecution’s case and Greenwood’s version of events had led to a Newton hearing taking place.

Such hearings allow magistrates to determine which version of events is the truth, and Mrs Irving conceded they had believed Greenwood.

Greenwood pleaded guilty to breaching the 10-year SHPO on the basis he had done so accidentally.

For his original sex offences, he was sentenced to 18 months in jail, suspended for two years, and placed on the sex offenders register for a decade.

Syed Ahmed, defending, said: “It was his accidental mistake and by way of that he finds himself before the court. This is his first breach of the order.”

Magistrates sentenced him to a 12-month community order, with 25 rehabilitation days, and fined him £80, with a £95 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.