March 2014

Darlington sex offender jailed after defying child ban six times

Andrew Bland (pictured above in 2009)

A sex offender has been sent to prison after defying an order imposed to keep him away from children for the SIXTH time.

Andrew Bland, 32, of Rockingham Street, Darlington, was described by a judge as a man who posed a “significant risk” to young children but was determined to “test the boundaries” of a sexual offences prevention order designed to protect youngsters from him.

He appeared before Teesside Crown Court to admit the sixth breach of the order since it was imposed in 2004.

On previous occasions he had been caught on CCTV hovering close to mums with young children.

Prosecutor DavidCrook said his latest offence was to become a member at Darlington Library, which he was forbidden from doing because it could have brought him into contact with children using it for educational visits.

Bland admitted joining the library when he was visited at home by a police officer who was carrying out a risk management review of him. When questioned he went on to say he was also a member of Teesside and Bishop Auckland libraries.

After he was arrested and interviewed Bland said he believed it was permitted for him to visit libraries outside school term time.

Prosecutor David Crook said: “This is the sixth prevention of the sexual offences prevention order. Each of the previous ones appear to have been an attempt to make contact with people who might be at risk.Joining multiple libraries might have brought him into contact with people who are at risk from him.

“In an earlier breach he was watched on CCTV in a shopping centre being very very close to women with children.

“It is this push push push behaviour that is causing concern.”

Paul Abrahams, for Bland, said: “In some respects there is some mitigation that he disclosed this himself rather than being caught out. This is not the most serious breach in isolation but one has to put that with the caveat that this is a sixth offence.”

Judge Howard Crowson jailed Bland for 14 months, giving him credit for his early guilty plea.

He told him: “You are someone who feels it is a good idea to test the boundaries of your sexual offences prevention order in as many ways as you can.

“You pose a significant risk to young people. We are at an earlier stage here, there is no direct contact with a child on this occasion, but it appears to me to be a preparatory step.

“This is the sixth time you have breached it and you know full well what you are doing.”

May 2013

Prolific Stockton sex offender jailed for repeated breach of child ban

A PROLIFIC sex offender was today (Monday, May 20) jailed for the fifth time for breaching a court order banning him from going near children.

Andrew Bland, 31, was caught on CCTV cameras approaching women and youngsters in the Castlegate shopping centre in Stockton.

Under a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO), he is prohibited from “loitering in any pace within 20 metres of anyone under-16”.

Prosecutor Rachel Masters told Teesside Crown Court that he pestered three people, all of whom had children with them, on January 28.

When he was arrested, Bland claimed he had been asking one woman for a light for a cigarette and then others for money to buy heroin.

The SOPO was imposed in 2004 for ten years after Bland was jailed for three years for taking a child without lawful authority.

The court heard that he also has convictions from 1999 for indecent assault and inciting a child to commit an act of gross indecency.

Bland breached the SOPO in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 and received prison sentences ranging from six months to three years.

Judge Peter Armstrong jailed him for 12 months yesterday after telling him: “They were persistent and come after a series of others.”

Bland, of Hartington Road, Stockton, admitted breaching the order, and the judge told him the flouting had been “deliberate”.

Garry Wood, mitigating, said: “Had it been his first breach, the court may have been minded to deal with him with a community penalty.”

April 2009

Judge jails serial paedophile for grooming boys

A CHILD snatcher is behind bars after the fourth breach of a court order.

Andrew Bland already had convictions for indecency with children when he abducted a 10-year-old boy in 2004.

He befriended the youngster in an arcade at Whitley Bay, gave him cannabis, and spent the night with him in a derelict cabin while a police hunt was under way after the missing boy’s mum raised the alarm.

Bland was jailed for three years and given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order forbidding any contact with under-16s.

But the 27-year-old breached the strict terms three times in the years that followed.

And he broke the order again by playing football with two youngsters he later confessed he planned to groom for sex, Newcastle Crown Court heard.

Jailing him for three years, Judge Richard Lowden warned: “I have got to regard you as a danger to children.

“The order which was made in the past and designed to protect children from you is not working.”

Judge Lowden said he accepted Bland had finally begun to tackle a longstanding drink and drug problem.

However, he told him: “I am left with no choice but to impose a long prison sentence.”

Kevin Young, who set up Newcastle-based pressure group Justice for Survivors, said: “All too often we see people given chance after chance. Meanwhile more victims suffer in the process.

“We are glad the judge in this case has finally taken the view that this man should be placed in custody, meaning he cannot strike again for now.”

Mr Young, of Jarrow, South Tyneside, was himself abused by pervert prison officer Neville Husband while serving a short sentence for handling a stolen watch in the 1970s.

He added: “In this case, this man had been convicted of abuse but was given the opportunity to do it again and I am horrified to hear of that.”

Bland will take part in a sex offender treatment programme, the court heard.

Bland admitted breaching the SOPO while he was staying at an approved hostel in Pennywell, Sunderland, and still on licence from his last prison term.

Bland joined in a kickabout with two boys and was overheard agreeing to meet them again on fields the following night.

Alan Brockbank, prosecuting, said: “He wanted to get to know the boys better in the hope of having sex with them, that something may have happened two or three days after grooming them.”

Bland, formerly of Seaton Delaval and Wallsend, first breached the SOPO in October 2005 when he approached a 13-year-old boy in the street.

He broke it again by meeting the young son of a relative, the court heard.

And last year he was given an 18-month jail term for approaching a group of youngsters at the Old Eldon Square green in Newcastle.