A Thanet sex offender who viewed indecent images of children via the dark web then absconded to Scotland after he was caught has been jailed.
Gregory Powney was previously convicted of making indecent images of children and became the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order which meant he had regular visits from police and could only own a computer or phone if the browsing history was available for officers to examine.
But when officers visited his home in High Street, Ramsgate on July 2, 2018, they found he was using the dark web on a secret laptop to continue his offending.
The 67-year-old handed over a phone and a tablet to be checked by police. It was only when he was warned by officers that he admitted he had another laptop, which he kept hidden behind a drawer.
When the laptop was examined, it was found to have software installed which would wipe the browsing history, as well as various applications to access the dark web. A number of indecent images and films of children were also found on the laptop.
During the investigation Powney was found to have further breached his order by having two credit cards he had not made officers aware of.
Officers also found another phone he had not previously told them about.
Powney was charged in November 2018 but during court proceedings, he absconded while on bail. Police tracked him down to a caravan in Scotland where he was making plans to avoid detection. He was arrested again for a further breach of the order, as he had failed to tell police he was staying in Inverness and had two new bank accounts.
At Canterbury Crown Court he pleaded guilty to a total of 16 offences, relating to making indecent images of children, and multiple breaches of his order.
He was sentenced, when he appeared today (August 27), to four years in prison and must serve an additional two years on licence.
Investigating officer, DC Fleur Mciver said: “I hope the public are reassured by this case as an example of the many hours of work carried out by dedicated officers as part of their duties to monitor convicted sex offenders and ensure that if any further offending takes place, they will not be able to get away with it.
“The steps Gregory Powney took to conceal his online activity were elaborate and throughout the police investigation and court case, he continued to offend.
“A Sexual Offences Prevention Order is one of the tools we use to keep the public safe and restrict the criminal behaviour of offenders, who if they don’t abide by the orders, will have action taken against them.”
An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Behind these images are often children who have been subjected to unthinkable pain and suffering. By continually downloading and sharing this sickening material Powney has helped to leave a trail of devastation by fuelling demand for more children to be abused.
“Big tech companies need to ensure that they work with law enforcement to remove this terrible content as soon as it appears and identify who put it there in the first place.”
Children can contact Childline 24/7 on 0800 1111. Adults concerned about the wellbeing of a child can phone the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 8005000 or email [email protected]