May 2010

Croxley Green man breached order

A 38-year-old man found with more than 2,750 indecent images of children on his laptop has been remanded in custody following complaints by probation he has breached his sex offenders order.

Matthew Howard was given a suspended prison sentence in January, after police found thousands of sickening images of child abuse on a computer in his bedroom in New Road, Croxley Green.

Howard had been sharing the images over the internet, which in turn allowed him access to more images.

Police also found hallucinogenic drugs magic mushrooms and amphetamines and cannabis.

He admitted 15 charges of distributing, making and possessing indecent images of children and nine drugs charges.

The sentencing judge at St Albans Crown Court, Judge Michael Baker imposed a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years in line with the recommendation in the probation report.

Howard was ordered to sign on the sex offenders register and was banned from working with children.

He is also prohibited owning any electronic computer equipment capable of deleting its history.

Judge Baker also ordered Howard to attend the sex offenders’ treatment programme during two years of supervision by probation.

He was warned that failing to abide by all the conditions of the sentence could see him brought back to the court and sent to prison for some or all of the six-month suspended sentence.

However, within two months of the order being made the probation service said the defendant had breached it.

Howard was accused of failing to keep appointments with probation on March 3 and March 26.

As a result he appeared back in the same court which had sentenced him in April.

Because Howard was unrepresented Judge John Plumstead adjourned proceedings for Howard to get himself a lawyer.

However, Howard, expecting to be given a further community order, failed to do so.

When he appeared at court today (Thursday) he faced further more serious charges from probation, that he was failing to engage with the Internet Sex Offenders Treatment Programme.

Eve George, prosecuting, said Howard had been “disruptive” and was “showing an unwillingness to cooperate”.

Asked by Judge John Plumstead why he had not instructed solicitors to act on his behalf, Howard said he did not think it was that “serious”

and that he did not wish to waste the court’s resources.

Judge Plumstead replied: “When a Judge tells you to get a lawyer. I can tell you it is serious.”