Sunderland sex offender caught using Telegram and Signal apps

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A sex offender caught deleting a mobile phone app by police against the orders of the court has been spared jail.

Andres Giraldo Valez, 37, was handed a suspended 18-week prison term but warned by magistrates about the risks to his liberty should he reoffend.

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The Spanish national, of St Michaels Court, Hendon, downloaded and then removed the Telegram messaging service on the same day in February.

But just 24 hours later, police with powers to monitor his online activities visited his home to check his electronic devices.

They found evidence he had downloaded Telegram and another messaging app, Signal, and got rid of both.

Under the terms of a sexual harm prevention order, he is prohibited from using any device that can download apps but cannot retain them for 90 days.

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The order, which also compels him to allow his devices to be checked by police, was imposed by a judge at Newcastle Crown Court in 2016.

It followed his conviction on three counts of making indecent images and two of possession of indecent images.

At South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, Giraldo Valez pleaded guilty to breaching the order by deleting Telegram, with no charge brought in relation to Signal.

Prosecutor Holly Clegg said: “Officers attended the defendant’s address on February 3 to complete a home risk requirement, part of a sexual harm prevention order. 

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“They asked to look at his telephone and assessed that there had been activity of using two apps, the Signal private messenger and Telegram.

“Both had been downloaded on February 2 but were no longer on the phone.

“He stated he had used them for a while but had deleted them from his phone, which was against the terms of the order.

“The defendant has no previous breaches. The crown says it’s a deliberate breach, but we have no evidence of harm.”

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Peter Thubron, defending, said: “Telegram is a messaging service. He has downloaded this programme but didn’t want to use it.

“The very next day, without notice, his supervision officers arrived. I don’t believe Telegram is a porn channel.

“He tells me he didn’t know that there was going to be a problem. He needs to understand that he can’t delete anything.”

Magistrates suspended Giraldo Valez’s prison sentence for two years and ordered him to pay a £154 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.

David Gouch, chair of the bench, told him: “Let’s hope you’ve taken notice of what’s happened today.”

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