Ashford sex offender jailed for nine years

An extended prison sentence has been imposed on a man who tried to engage children in sexualised conversations online while he was the subject of a court order.

Gareth Hall, formerly of Lynsted Close, Ashford, sent messages to someone he thought was a 12-year-old girl through a chat website in January 2023. But the person he was communicating with was in fact an undercover police officer.

The conversations, during which Hall attempted to obtain indecent images, took place despite a 10-year Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) imposed in 2021 after Hall was found with indecent images on his mobile phones.

The court order forbade him from accessing the internet without informing the authorities, using devices without specific monitoring software on them and a range of other online activities.

Hall was arrested in February 2023 and was charged with attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, attempting to incite a girl to engage in sexual activity, making indecent photographs and breach of a SHPO.

He admitted those charges and, at Canterbury Crown Court on Friday 12 May, the 32-year-old was jailed for nine years.

He was ordered to serve an extra five years on licence following that term.

The court heard how analysis of his computer found he had been attempting to find teen chatrooms online. He had also been using a phone not disclosed to monitoring officers.