Serial South Shields sex fiend, 77, walks free – despite reaching 300th conviction

editorial image

A serial sex fiend has walked free from court after clocking up his 300th criminal conviction.

Gordon Catchpole, who started offending in the 1950s, is banned from travelling on public transport in the afternoons to stop him having contact with children coming home from school.

The restriction was imposed by a judge in 2012 after the 77-year-old, of Havelock Street, South Shields, was locked up for sex assaults on two schoolgirls as they travelled on buses.

Catchpole, whose criminal career includes a number of sexual offences, was arrested in May after causing trouble on a 3pm train heading from Newcastle to York, where he was drunk, dishevelled and had no ticket.

The pensioner, who had been planning on taking a daytrip to York, was removed from the train at Darlington, where he tried to hide and “swung for” rail staff.

At Newcastle Crown Court he admitted using threatening behaviour and breaching the Sexual Offences Prevention Order by travelling on the train after his 2.30pm ban.

Mr Recorder Keith Miller sentenced Catchpole, who has spent the last month behind bars, to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, with supervision.

The judge told him: “You are a thorough menace.

“You have appeared before the courts on 150 occasions for 300 offences.

“The catalogue of misery, the catalogue of distress you have caused to people since you started offending in the 1950s must be immeasurable.

“In addition, the cost to the tax payer of dealing with you over the last 50 to 60 years must, once again, be impossible to calculate.”

The judge said abiding by the terms of such court orders are crucial for the protection of children.

He warned Catchpole: “You are gong to spend your last days in prison if you are not very, very careful.”

Kieran Rainey, defending, said Catchpole has lived in social isolation and has a history of alcohol use.

Mr Rainey added; “It was a trip to York for him, 30 minutes after the prohibition.

“He came into Newcastle on the Metro, consumed alcohol in various pubs and decided to go for a trip to York. It was a very stupid thing for him to do.”