October 2020

Tyneside woman convicted of indecent images caught contacting schoolgirl on Instagram

A woman banned from communicating with children after being caught with indecent images of kids had forbidden Instagram chats with a 14-year-old girl.

Rachel Smith was subject to a sexual harm prevention order imposed in 2018 as part of her punishment for having child abuse images.

But when police went to check on her, an officer who examined her phone found messages between Smith and what turned out to be a child.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Smith had been warned of her age by a relative but continued to communicate with her.

The 56-year-old, of Brinkburn Street, East Howdon, North Tyneside, pleaded guilty to breaching the sexual harm prevention order and was sentenced to a three year community order.

Amy Levitt, prosecuting, said Smith was sentenced to six months suspended for two years in 2018 for the indecent images offences and was made subject to the sexual harm prevention order for ten years.

In July this year, police went to her home to do a risk review.

Miss Levitt said: “They asked to look at her mobile phone and when searching on it they discovered messages on Instagram between the defendant and a female who appeared young from her images.

“They were in regular communication and discussed the girl’s days at school.

“Some of the messages referenced the female fancying the defendant and her school teacher.

Miss Levitt added: “She said she believed the girl was 18 but her aunt contacted her to say stop communicating with her as she was only 14.

“So she had been told to stop talking to the female and did not.”

The court heard Smith has a conviction for indecent assault from 1994 among 50 previous convictions.

Judge Robert Spragg said that she would be “vulnerable and easily exploited” if sent to prison and that the public would be better served by a lengthy community order.