July 2012

Jail for Evenwood sex offender who breached order

A SEX offender, obsessed with viewing boys bound and gagged, was found in possession of bondage equipment when police visited his home. 

Officers also discovered a hidden mobile phone giving Thomas Cowburn access to the internet, breaching a restriction placed on him as a convicted sex offender.

Durham Crown Court heard that the cache found by police included a carrier bag containing rope, a gag and a set of handcuffs.

Christine Egerton, prosecuting, said there was also a teddy bear found bound in tape.

On examination of the hidden phone, secreted behind a bath panel, it emerged Cowburn used it to access the internet to view images of bound children, and had done so within half-an-hour of the police raid, on March 7.

Cowburn was arrested and admitted having “an obsession” with bondage, which he accepted was in breach of a sexual offences prevention order (Sopo) imposed to restrict his access to the internet.

Mrs Egerton said Cowburn told police he had set up a Facebook account using a false name, portraying himself as a young person to communicate with children and using a picture of a boy as his profile image to back up his pretence.

In a subsequent interview he admitted setting up 15 other Facebook accounts, all purporting to be boys aged six to 11, to allow communication with children.

Mrs Egerton said Cowburn was jailed for two years in May 2007 after admitting two offences each of detaining children without lawful authority and common assault.

He was subsequently recalled to prison for using the internet to access websites relating to child torture.

The Sopo was imposed in May 2010 forbidding him from having a mobile phone to access the internet, or from viewing images of children under 18.

Cowburn, 26, of Evenwood, County Durham, admitted three counts of breaching the Sopo and three of making indecent photographs of a child.

Mark Styles, mitigating, described Cowburn’s sexual interest as, “more voyeuristic”. “He’s a loner, living an isolated and solitary existence, and is clearly obsessed with this sort of material.”

Imposing an indeterminate sentence for public protection, Recorder Paul Watson said he had “grave concerns” that if Cowburn was at liberty he would revert to similar disturbing behaviour.

He said Cowburn could only be released when the Parole Board considered it was safe to allow him his freedom. Recorder Watson ordered that Cowburn cannot apply for release to the board for at least two years.