March 2022

Paedophile caught with software to wipe internet history from his phone

A convicted sex offender was caught with internet-wiping software on his phone and an email account in a false name just months after walking out of court.

Anthony Coombes was on a suspended sentence at the time after being convicted of engaging in sexually explicit conversations with what he believed were 12 and 14 year old girls, and was also subject to a sexual harm prevention order designed to control his online activities.

Sending the 22-year-old to prison, a judge said he did not believe the defendant had any intention of abiding by court orders.

Dean Pulling, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that on the morning of February 4 this year police went to Coombes’ home and asked to see his electronic devices.

The defendant handed over a Huawei mobile, and the officer noticed it only had that day’s internet history in the browser history.

A detailed examination of the handset found the phone contained an app which had a data-erasing function, and that Coombes had an email account in the name of “Bennypern”.

The defendant is banned from erasing his internet history or using aliases when setting up an email account by a sexual harm prevention order (SHPO).

In his subsequent interview the defendant said he didn’t know he was not allowed to delete his online history, and said the cleaning app had came with the phone which he had bought secondhand.

He accepted he had created the alias email address but said this was only for use on his X-Box games console.

Anthony Stephen Joshua Coombes, of Colley Court, Monkton, Pembroke, had previously pleaded guilty to breaching the conditions of a (SHPO) when he appeared in the dock for sentencing.

The court heard that in October 2021 Coombes was sentenced at Swansea Crown Court to 12 months in prison suspended for two years for attempted sexual communication with a child, possessing indecent images of a child, and failing to comply with sex offender notification requirements.

These offences had seen Coombes contacting what he believed were two girls aged 12 and 14 on a site called Chat Hour, and engaging in sexual conversations with them before asking for intimate photographs.

In reality the profiles of the girls were decoy accounts being run by adult members of so-called paedophile hunter groups, and the woman running one of the decoys contacted the police after she found Coombes’ Facebook page and discovered he had been befriending real young girls.

When the defendant was arrested officers found two indecent images of girls ages between eight and 12 on his phone which had been downloaded from the Kik messenger app.

The court heard that after pleading guilty to these offences in August last year the case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report – Coombes was released on bail but then failed to register with police as he was required to do as a sex offender.

The prosecutor said the defendant also has a conditional caution from 2017 – when he was a juvenile – for offences of attempting to incite a child to engage in a penetrative sexual activity, and sending indecent images after he admitted sending pictures and videos of his penis to girls aged 14 and 15.

Judge Paul Thomas QC said Coombes had been given a “merciful” sentence in October last year but it was clear to him that the defendant had no intention of complying with requirements of the sexual harm prevention order.

The judge sentenced him to eight months in prison for breaching the order and activated 10 months of the previously imposed suspended sentence to run consecutively making an overall sentence of 18 months in prison.

Coombes will serve up to half that period in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.

The sexual harm prevention order remains in place.