October 2017

Sex offender lied to police about internet-enabled devices

A convicted sex offender lied to police about owning internet-enabled devices when they arrived at his home to carry out a spot-check.

Under the terms of a Sexual Offence Prevention Order imposed after he was convicted for indecent photograph offences in 2014 Gordon Lang, of Spencer Avenue, Radcliffe, is allowed to own the devices but must allow them to be inspected by police..

He also has a string of convictions dating back to the late 60s, including for gross indecency, indecent exposure and indecent assault of a female.

Michael Brady, prosecuting, told Bolton Crown Court that when officers attended the 79-year-old’s home on September 4 Lang claimed he only had an old mobile phone.

But on inspecting a router they discovered a Samsung mobile phone was connected to the internet.

Lang at first denied knowledge of the phone before eventually producing it from his trouser pocket.

Three other internet-enabled devices – a tablet, a digital camera and a smart watch – were also discovered during a search of his home.

Mark Shanks, defending, said Lang had tried to conceal the devices as he thought he would be ‘in trouble’ if police found he was using them

He said: “He believed that as they were internet connected devices he believed he was not supposed to have them and was frightened when the police turned up.

“He was perfectly entitled to have them.”

Mr Shanks also told the court that Lang was ‘remorseful’ and in contact with probation service who had stressed his compliance with the Sexual Offence Prevention Order.

He added that Lang visits his sister, her daughter and husband — who has cancer and has been an emotional support to them.

With reference to his offending, he told the court: “He is trying to put this aspect of his life behind him.”

Judge Graeme Smith handed Lang a 12 month community sentence with the requirement to participate in 10 days of rehabilitation activities.

Judge Smith added that he is concerned that the devices retrieved from Lang’s home have yet to be analysed by police, so it is not known if they store indecent images or have been used to search for improper material.

He said: “I’m told the reason the phone has not been examined is a resource issue for the police.

“It troubles me in terms of meeting the effectiveness of Sexual Offences Prevention Orders.

“If police are not in a position to carry out that activity, what’s the point of the court making them [the orders]?”

He said that, due to this, he was sentencing Lang purely for his failure to offer up the devices when requested to do so.

He said: “I understand that your explanation to police for not notifying was that you didn’t believe you could have them in the first place.

“That begs the question of why you had them if you believed they were prohibited.

“That’s a worrying factor – on the face of it, it seems you were prepared to disregard the terms of the order.”

But he warned Lang that if indecent material were to be discovered on the devices, he would appear before him on separate charges.

He continued: “If when your devices are ultimately examined by the police show material you should not have viewed, you will be back before the court and that will be something entirely separate.”