February 2021

Pervert who flouted internet ban walks free from court again after messaging children

A pervert spared jail for having sexual chats with underage girls started talking to children again just weeks later.

Craig Stoddart, 36, was convicted of engaging in sexual communication with a child and two counts of attempting to do so last year.

He was handed six months in prison, suspended for two years, and told to attend a Horizon sex offenders treatment programme.

Stoddart, of Saunders Street, Southport, was also ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders Register and to comply with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) – heavily restricting his use of the internet – for seven years on January 22, 2020.

But a court today heard how just two months later he bought a mobile phone and started making internet searches, which he later cleared and deleted from his history, in breach of the order.

Derek Jones, prosecuting, said there was no evidence of what Stoddart had searched for, but when police visited his home on May 6 and seized the device and a computer, they found he had also used the internet to contact more girls under the age of 16.

Liverpool Crown Court heard his conversations with these girls did not develop into sexualised communication and the children quickly ended their conversations with him.

Stoddart admitted breaching his SHPO and breaching his suspended sentence.

The court heard Stoddart’s only previous convictions were for the offences for which he was convicted last year.

Judge Menary said: “Simply because of coronavirus you’ve not been able to take advantage of that particular course. It’s because of that and for that reason only I’m not going to send you to prison today.”

He handed Stoddart 12 months in jail, suspended for 18 months, and marked the breach of his suspended sentence by imposing 150 hours of unpaid work and a £150 contribution towards court costs.

Judge Menary said: “I have no doubt you can take it as guaranteed if you do anything like this again, you will be going immediately to prison.”