May 2019

Sex offender who flouted order avoids jail as judge says prison would increase his risk to public

A sex offender who flouted court orders by using the social media platform Snapchat has avoided a prison sentence.

Patrick Thornton, 26, was jailed for two years in January 2016 after he offered underage boys money for sexual favours online .

He contacted boys via Facebook and propositioned five boys, offering up to £700 for sex acts, asking them to “keep it a secret”.

They ignored his repeated requests, called him a paedophile and told police, leading to his jail term in January 2016.

He was given a five-year sexual harm prevention order (SHPO) governing his internet use and placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

He fell foul of the court orders, putting him at risk of another custodial sentence almost two years later on December 3 last year.

A detective visited him, looked at his phone and found he had installed Snapchat, which is used to share photos and videos.

The app automatically deletes pictures moments after they are sent – making its use against the terms of Thornton’s SHPO.

Thornton also used a username involving the name Williams without telling police, prosecutor Harry Hadfield told Teesside Crown Court.

He told officers he had used the app for a couple of months to speak to men he had met on Grindr, a social networking and dating app.

Thornton, of Danby Grove, Thornaby, admitted breaching the SHPO and failing to comply with notification requirements.

Judge Howard Crowson said: “There’s been years of compliance between the original order and this breach.

“The probation officer has argued a very strong case. Your risk appears to be relatively low. Your views appear to have improved.”

He agreed sending Thornton back to prison to mix with “people who have very warped views” would actually increase his risk.

Thornton was given an 18-month community order with 30 days’ rehabilitation activity.

January 2016

Pervert used Facebook to offer underage boys cash for sexual favours

A sex offender who offered underage boys money for sexual favours online was jailed for two years today.

Patrick Thornton, 22, contacted boys via Facebook and offered them money for sexual acts, Teesside Crown Court heard.

He made one request 15 times and offered amounts up to £700, all to no avail, said prosecutor Shaun Dodds.

He carried on his activities and propositioned five boys, ignoring warnings from a victim and police, and undeterred by an arrest.

He asked victims to “keep it a secret”, not to say anything to anyone and that no one had to find out about his late-night suggestions.

Judge Sean Morris told him: “These are persistent offences of a serious nature committed time after time.

“You knew full well they were illegal, immoral and your victims were young.

“It must have been highly distressing for them and it’s highly distressing for parents to think that their children are being contacted in this fashion.”

The court was told Thornton proposed a sexual act to one boy 15 times, and only stopped when the boy said he would report him to the police.

“You were on notice then. That was the shot across your bows,” Judge Morris said.

Despite this, Thornton contacted the same boy months later and asked him to sleep with him for money – “15 minutes with the lights off”.

He offered £200 to another boy for sexual activity, but the boy told his parents.

They called Thornton a paedophile and called police, who warned Thornton to stop contacting young boys.

He continued, offering a third boy £300 for a sexual act, after which he was arrested.

In police interview he said he knew it was wrong and he only did it when he was drinking.

He was bailed, only to communicate with a fourth boy and offer him £40 for sexual activity, then raising the offer to £700.

Thornton also confessed to making similar advances to a fifth boy, who refused to be interviewed by police.

The boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, all ignored the sexual requests. 

Thornton, of High Grange Avenue, Billingham , admitted five counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Gary Wood, defending, said: “Alcohol appears to have played a significant role in this offending.”

He said a probation officer and psychiatrist believed the crimes would not have been committed if not for alcohol.

Thornton was admitted to hospital with pancreatitis, put in an induced coma and had part of his stomach removed. He stopped drinking after he was warned more alcohol could kill him.

He was diagnosed with learning problems from an early age and was inexperienced in romantic and sexual relationships, added Mr Wood.

Judge Morris jailed Thornton for two years and gave him a five-year sexual offences prevention order governing his internet use and contact with under-16s.

Thornton will be on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

November 2015

Internet pervert tricked young boys on Facebook into performing sex acts

An internet pervert who targeted young boys on Facebook has been told by Teesside’s top judge that he is facing a definite prison sentence.

Patrick Thornton, 22, has admitted tricking them into performing naked sex acts over the web.

Thornton, from Billingham, preyed on four boys between October 2013 and August 7 last year.

Defence counsel Gary Wood told Teesside Crown Court yesterday that he was seeking medical reports on Thornton, who previously lived in Palmerston Street, Stockton.

Thornton, now of High Grange Avenue, Billingham, had earlier pleaded guilty to all of five charges of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, with one boy in 2013 and individually with the four of them last year.He was remanded on bail for reports before sentencing on January 8.

The Recorder of Middlesbrough Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC told him: “You have had the good sense to plead guilty to this indictment.

“You will get full credit for that. The fact that I am adjourning the sentence for you to be seen by the probation service and a psychologist should not lead you to the fact that anything other than a custodial sentence will be passed in your case.”