Landlord breaches sex offence order

Burnley Magistrates' Court
Burnley Magistrates' Court

A Burnley landlord who is a convicted internet sex offender used an incognito browser which wiped his search history - but claimed he had it because he didn't want his tenants to know he was gay, a court heard.

John George Potter (53) used the device on his tablet computer, even though he was banned from deleting the history so that police could check up on him.

Potter, who was convicted of possessing indecent photographs of children in June 2014, was the subject of a sexual offences prevention order, made at Grimsby Crown Court.

Burnley magistrates were told Potter let out rooms in his home in the town after the probation service were said to have told him he shouldn't live on his own, as it didn't encourage a healthy lifestyle. He claimed the tablet was "communal" and he didn't want his house-mates finding out he had been looking at adult homosexual pornography.

Potter, of Raglan Road, admitted breaching the SOPO, between December 1st, 2016 and February 5th, 2017. He was committed on bail to be sentenced at Burnley Crown Court on April 10th, after the bench chairwoman told him: "This was a direct breach that does go to the heart of the reason for this order."

Alex Mann (prosecuting) said: "The defendant has been on the internet in such a way that he doesn't store what he has been using. The Crown says whilst there isn't any evidence of any similar offences on his device, there wouldn't be because he is not storing it. It doesn't mean indecent images weren't there. It means we can't check."

Daniel Frazer (defending) told the hearing that Potter had to move from Grimsby after the court case. The solicitor continued: "He needed to start afresh and Burnley seemed as good a place as any."

Potter had bought his house outright. Mr Frazer went on: "As part of the community order he was told he should not live on his own as it doesn't encourage a healthy lifestyle. He has taken this on board and rented out a few of the rooms so that he is not secluded, not away from society.

"He didn't want his fellow house-mates to know his sexual orientation. He didn't want them to know he was gay. The tablet is communal. He allows his house-mates to use his laptop."

Mr Frazer said Potter thought the device stored the internet history but meant that anybody borrowing the tablet wouldn't be directed to homosexual websites which showed pornography.

The solicitor added: "He says that was the reason why he was using that particular style of browsing. He didn't know it deletes his history."