April 2021

‘Devious’ online predator’s apology as he’s jailed for making friend hide phone

‘Devious’ sex offender Robert Alexander apologised to the court before being jailed for failing to tell police he was using a mobile phone.

The 23-year-old – described as an ‘online predator’ – asked a friend to take his Samsung mobile after an offender manager turned up at his door.

But the phone was later recovered and it showed he had been using the internet for ‘some time’.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard Alexander was handed a suspended jail sentence in 2018 for two offences of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child and two charges of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

He had contacted boys via Facebook which led to them video messaging each other and Alexander sending sexually suggestive emojis.

The defendant even tried to persuade the older victim – aged 14 at the time – to meet him.

But his efforts were thwarted when the youngsters blocked him on social media and told their school what had happened.

As well as the suspended sentence, he was made the subject of an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO).

As part of the order he is banned from using any device capable of accessing the internet unless he notifies the police within three days of owning it and he is prohibited from possessing any device capable of storing digital images unless he makes it available on request for inspection.

Prosecutor Daniel Oscroft said police visited the defendant on May 18 and asked him what devices he had and he told them he had a black basic phone and no others.

Mr Oscroft said: “The offender manager made a further visit on July 7. It took 10 minutes for the defendant to answer the door. A woman left when asked to do so by the defendant.

“He was asked to make available any internet enabled devices for inspection. He made a number of excuses.

“The woman was later spoken to and she said the defendant handed her a phone when the police were outside and she put it in her pocket and left. She gave the offender manager a Samsung mobile.”

In his police interview the defendant said he found his old Samsung phone in February 2020. He said he first used it on May 1 and continued to use it until it was taken by the police.

Alexander, of West Street, Leek, pleaded guilty to breaching a SHPO.

Paul Cliff, mitigating, said: “He was living alone and had found the phone. It is an old phone but still capable of accessing the internet. He resisted the temptation to use it until May 1.

“The phone was analysed by the police and there is nothing between May 1 and July 7 which suggests the phone was used for a sinister purpose.

“The phone has been returned to him.

“In May 2020 he was physically isolated. He accepts he used the phone in order to enable some social contact with people known to him. He accepts he is in breach of the order by doing that. He recognises it was inappropriate and he instructs me to apologise on his behalf.”

Jailing the defendant for eight months, Judge Paul Glenn said he had been fortunate not to be sent to prison in 2018.

He said: “You were completely devious with the police. When they came to your address on the first occasion you told them you had no internet enabled devices. When they returned on July 7 the reason you were slow to answer the door was you were persuading your female friend to take the phone from your house so the police would not find it.

“Subsequent inquiries showed you had been using that phone for some time, since May 1, the day after the suspended sentence expired.

May 2018

Online predator caught after boys he forced to take part in sexually explicit videos alerted school

Predator Robert Alexander contacted two boys via Facebook and forced them to take part in sexually explicit video calls and messages.

Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard how he also tried to persuade the older victim – who was aged 14 – to meet him. But his efforts were thwarted when the youngsters blocked him on social media and told their school about what had happened.

Now 20-year-old Alexander, of West Street, Leek, has admitted two charges of causing or inciting a boy under 16 to engage in sexual activity and two charges of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

Andrew Baker, prosecuting, said the defendant had initiated contact with the youths for his own ‘sexual gratification’.

t led to them video messaging each other and Alexander sending sexually suggestive emojis. He also asked the younger boy, who was 12 years old, to send him pictures.

In their victim impact statements, the boys described feeling concerned, upset and ‘really low’ as they tried to come to terms with the incident.

Alexander was arrested and made frank admissions when interviewed by police.

“He denied offering to meet with one of them. However, he accepted he had sent graphic material,” added Mr Baker. “He said he needed professional help.”

Alexander was sentenced to 16 months in youth custody, suspended for two years, with a requirement that he complete a sex offender’s programme and 25 days of a rehabilitation activity.

He must also pay £300 costs and will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order for an indefinite period.

The order will prohibit him from accessing the internet without notifying the police in advance and will also ban him from deleting images or search histories, using social media to communicate with anyone under 16 and having any contact with the two victims.

Sentencing him, Judge Paul Glenn told Alexander: “While I accept you may not have been targeting children, you were not remotely deterred when you established it was children you were communicating with. Your motive was sexual gratification.