An extended prison sentence has been imposed on a man who tried to engage children in sexualised conversations online while he was the subject of a court order.

Gareth Hall, formerly of Lynsted Close, Ashford, sent messages to someone he thought was a 12-year-old girl through a chat website in January 2023. But the person he was communicating with was in fact an undercover police officer.

The conversations, during which Hall attempted to obtain indecent images, took place despite a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) imposed in 2021 after Hall was found with indecent images on his mobile phones.

Hall Latest
Gareth Hall

The court order forbade him from accessing the internet without informing the authorities, using devices without specific monitoring software on them and a range of other online activities.

Hall was arrested in February 2023 and was charged with attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, attempting to incite a girl to engage in sexual activity, making indecent photographs and breach of a SHPO.

He admitted those charges and, at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday 12 May, the 32-year-old was jailed for nine years. He was ordered to serve an extra five years on licence following that term.

The court heard how analysis of his computer found he had been attempting to find teen chatrooms online. He had also been using a phone not disclosed to monitoring officers.

Protecting children

Detective Constable Sarah Jacobs, of Kent Police’s Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT), said: ‘Officers apply for and obtain Sexual Harm Prevention Orders to protect children in Britain and around the world from abuse.

‘Gareth Hall completely disregarded the court order imposed on him and continued to attempt to meet children online and talk them into sexual behaviour.

‘I am pleased our investigators caught him and I hope the lengthy sentence now imposed, including an extra licence period, protects children from him in future.’

By Ed

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