April 2022

Sex offender spoke to underage girls and swapped numbers at Durham bus stop

A sex offender who has persistently flouted notification requirements whenever released from prison is back behind bars for his latest breaches.

Jack Whitfield-Gash was previously jailed for 16 months at Durham Crown Court in August 2017, after being convicted of sexual activity with a child under 16

He was also made subject of a five-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) and required to register as a sex offender for ten years, but committed his first breach shortly after his release, receiving an initial ten-day sentence.

Whitfield-Gash was back before magistrates in Newton Aycliffe, in early March, and committed back to the crown court for sentence, having admitted two offences of failing to comply with notification requirements and three of failing to comply with a SHPO.

The court was told he failed to inform police he was living at the home of a woman who has a young daughter, days after being released from Durham Prison, on January 18 this year.

Durham Crown Court heard that he also chatted with two underage teenage girls at a bus stop, at which he told them he was “stoned”, and exchanged phone numbers with one, later receiving a message from her asking if he was, “still stoned?”

Tabitha Buck, prosecuting, said his phone was seized after he left an address on February 28 and examination revealed contact with the girls, at a bus stop in Durham.

The parents of the girl who sent the message to Whitfield-Gash were unaware their daughter had been in communication with him.

When interviewed about the various breaches, Whitfield-Gash described the situation as, “one big game”, adding that it was, “stupid little things that police keep getting him on.”

Miss Buck told the court the defendant became agitated with the interviewing officer and threatened to spit at her.

Whitfield-Gash, 24, of no fixed address, but who has been in custody in Durham Prison since his latest arrest, in late February, was said to have 30 convictions for 50 offences, including 13 sex-related, 11 of them being previous failures to comply with notification requirements.

Miss Buck told the court that the defendant, “has links all over the North East”, and she said the latest batch of offences suggested it was, “a deliberate attempt to avoid detection”, as he is fully aware of the requirements of the orders, given his recent offending history.

Judge Ray Singh said he rejected Whitfield-Gash’s assertion to police that these were just, “trivial matters”.

“You, more than anyone else, know the serious nature of the orders against you

“Because you know about this, you have appeared before the courts for 11 previous breaches.

“This is not an isolated offence. These are deliberate, persistent, prolonged breaches over a number of years, not stating to police where you are living, making it hard to monitor your movements.

“I’m afraid the lessons are not sinking in over these matters.”

Imposing a two-year prison sentence Judge Singh said it would be for the police to apply, “through other channels” to extend the SHPO, which expires in August.