January 2023

Carlisle paedophile used secret phone ‘to talk to other perverts’

A judge had demanded a written explanation after a legal slip-up prevented him from putting a Carlisle paedophile on the Sex Offender Register for life after the convicted paedophile used a secret phone ‘to talk to other paedophiles’

In December of 2021, 50-year-old Frederick O’Brien was given a 28-month jail term for using a secret mobile phone to communicate with a person he has mistakenly believed was a 14-year-old girl.

His offence came to light when he was snared by a volunteer paedophile hunter group. He committed the offence just months after being prosecuted for downloading indecent images of children.

But when O’Brien was sentenced, Carlisle Crown Court was unaware that he had committed a further breach of his sexual harm prevention order in May, 2021, several months before he given the 28 months jail term.

It involved him having a Samsung Galaxy phone which he kept secret from the police and deleting his internet browsing history.

O’Brien, from Glendale Rise, Morton, admitted that  he had been using the undisclosed phone to communicate with other paedophiles.

During a hearing before Judge Nicholas Barker this week, it was confirmed that in December 2021 the judge was legally unable to put the defendant on the Sex Offender Register for life.

That power is available to the court only when the jail term is 30 months or more. Thus the judge was allowed to put him on the Register for only a decade.

If the additional breach of the sexual harm prevention order had been dealt with a the same time, O’Brien’s sentence may well have exceeded 30 months, thus allowing the judge to put him on the Register for life.

“This matter should have been included in that sentencing exercise [in December],” said Judge Barker. “It was available to the police and the prosecution. It was a simple matter and [the defendant] made plain admissions.

“For some reason, this wasn’t included; and I have not been provided with a proper reason… It is hard to understand what proper reason there could have been.” The judge pointed out that such failures have “real consequences.”

O’Brien had been due for imminent release from his 28-month sentence, but the judge said this would now be delayed as Judge Barker jailed him for an additional eight months.

“I will need an explanation in writing,” said the judge, pointing out that the issue should be tackled at a level that ensures such an error is not repeated.

He said he needed to know whether the error was systemic, or a failure that was the fault of an individual. As the case concluded, O’Brien began weeping and said: “I’m so sorry for what I have done.”

At the hearing in December 2021, the court heard that O’Brien realised his mistake only after the vigilante group confronted him at a local hotel. The group – The Fleetwood Enforcers – then handed him and a dossier of evidence to the police.

The defendant went to admit three offences: attempting to cause or incite a 14-year-old girl to engage in sexual activity; attempting to sexually communicate with a child; and breach of a previously imposed sexual harm prevention order, failing to register with police his ownership of a mobile phone.

As he passed sentence, the judge in December described the defendant as a “determined paedophile.”

This defendant’s name has been spelt in official records as both Obrien and O’Brien.

December 2021

‘Determined’ Carlisle paedophile jailed in paedo hunter snare

A “determined paedophile” who sent sexual messages to what he thought was a 14-year-old girl has been jailed.

Frederick O’Brien, 49, was caught at a north Cumbria hotel by a paedophile hunting group after he sent messages to their adult decoy.

Carlisle Crown Court heard he used a mobile phone which was illegal for him to have under the terms of a court order imposed for previous offences.

O’Brien admitted several charges and was jailed for two years four months.

The court heard O’Brien contacted the decoy online with sexualised messages beginning almost immediately.

Police seized one mobile phone belonging to O’Brien which was fitted with police-approved monitoring software following his conviction in 2020 for having illegal images in his possession.

However, a second device which had not been declared to the authorities — and on which he had committed the new offences — was also recovered.

O’Brien, of Glendale Rise, Carlisle, admitted both attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity with a child, and attempting to engage a child in sexual communication; and also breaching one requirement of a strict order he was given when sentenced in 2020.

He had further flouted the suspended jail term he was given for that criminal conduct.

Judge Nicholas Barker told O’Brien: “You are a determined paedophile.

“You are restless and intent on seeking out and engaging with children in a sexual way.

“People with those tendencies have no right to be in society.”

A new sexual harm prevention order was imposed by the judge which will run for 10 years, while O’Brien must also continue to sign the sex offenders’ register for the next decade.