South Shields pervert avoids jail after searching porn on 'forbidden' devices

Lee Crabtree appeared at Newcastle Crown Court.
Lee Crabtree appeared at Newcastle Crown Court.

A paedophile who searched for porn on a forbidden mobile phone has avoided going back to prison.

Ex-jailbird Lee Crabtree spent time behind bars in 2014 after masquerading as a teenager in order to groom young girls online.

He was caught after one of the victim's mothers set a honey-trap for the pervert - who attempted to meet a child at Newcastle's Haymarket but was instead confronted by police.

But today, the 31-year-old wheelchair user was hauled in front of a judge again after breaching the terms of his Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

Prosecutor Angus Taylor said: "As a result of his previous convictions he was subjected to a regulation requirement and a sexual offences prevention order that was to last a period of 10 years.

"He was prohibited from possessing any device that has the internet access.

"Police had received information that he had a mobile phone and was accessing the internet."

Newcastle Crown Court heard how risk-managing officers turned up at Crabtree's house, on Felton Avenue, in South Shields at around 4pm on August 5 last year - however he was unable to let them in as he was in the house alone and stuck on the top floor.

The defendant, who suffers from spina bifida, called his mother, who then let the officers in.

Mr Taylor added: "Access was gained and the defendant spoke to officers in the bedroom. Officers said they noticed that the defendant appeared anxious, nervous and was sweating.

"He put a hand on a nearby towel and put it behind his back in a nervous fashion."

Mr Taylor explained that Crabtree had attempted to conceal a phone in the towel, but officers quickly recovered it.

The court heard how a second phone and a Microsoft tablet were also found in the defendant's possession without being declared.

Mr Taylor said: "He went on to say that yes he did hide them in fear of them being inspected."

Crabtree pleaded guilty to one breach of a sexual offences prevention order at South Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

The court heard that in 2014 he pleaded guilty to four charges of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and two of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming and was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment.

Vic Laffey, defending Crabtree, said: "The defendant pleaded guilty at the magistrates' court.

"The defendant is effectively someone who spends the bulk of his time in his bedroom.

"He accepts that he panicked and deleted some of the history on the phone.

"The devices have been interrogated and there was nothing sinister found upon them.

"He is fearful of what the outcome will be today."

Judge Robert Spragg sentenced Crabtree to a six month prison sentence suspended for 12 months.

He said: "This was a flagrant breach but little harm was done.

"You admitted that it was stupid and you made no excuses for your behaviour.

"You admitted that the reason you deleted the history was because you had searched porn.

"Be under no illusions, that if you fail to comply with the order you will go straight to prison."

Crabtree was also ordered to undertake a 30 day rehabilitation requirement.