A 'DEVIOUS sexual offender' with a history of breaching orders designed to stop him re-offending is back behind bars after police caught him breaking the law yet again.

Preston Crown Court heard how Richard Lovett's latest offending came to light on November 11, 2019 following a report that he had approached two children in a shop close to his Rossendale home.

Prosecuting, Cecilia Pritchard said no charges came from that incident but as a consequence police had decided to visit Lovett at his home.

He wasn't home at that time but police managed to get hold of him on the phone and the 30-year-old said he had slept in his car overnight because of trouble with his neighbours who were aware of his previous offending.

Lovett initially met officers at the police station, they asked to see his phone and he handed over a small blue Nokia phone.

The court heard that Lovett was required to hand over electronic devices capable of accessing the internet to police as part of the terms of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order he was given in October 2018 after being caught with hundreds of indecent images of children.

As part of that order he is also prohibited from having any devices capable of accessing the internet unless they have the capacity to display the history of the internet use and from installing any applications which would remove traces of internet usage.

Mr Pritchard said following that initial request officers went to Lovett's home and again asked him to produce any phones or electronic devices for inspection.

She said: "He initially presented a smart TV, the blue Nokia he had previously given them at the police station an Xbox and a desktop computer. He was asked if he had anything else at all, even if it was broken and he said 'no'.

"One of the police officer's was looking at his desktop computer. The defendant went over to his window. This was covered by a sheet. He appeared to be messing around behind it. The other officer noticed he was carrying a plastic cup, which appeared to have a phone in it."

Ms Pritchard said Lovett was asked what was in the cup and he denied that there was anything in it. When he was challenged he handed over a black ZTE phone, claiming it was broken.

Police also found Maxtor and WD Green hard drives in his jacket pocket.

When the ZTE phone was examined it was found to have two applications installed on it – Orbot which encrypts internet traffic and hides internet usage and a PIA VPN which allows users to browse the internet anonymously.

The court heard that police are examining the mobile phones to see if they contain any indecent material but as yet no charges have been brought in relation to that part of te investigation.

Lovett, who has six previous convictions for 43 offences, pleaded guilty to four counts of breaching a sexual harm prevention order.

Defending, Dudley Beal said his client's best mitigation was his early guilty pleas.

Mr Beal said: "As a result of his first conviction in 2010 Mr Lovett lost his employment and has not been able to secure work as a result of that conviction since. That has led to circumstances where he has found himself reverting back to old behaviours.

"There are matters which need to be address, which can be addressed within the community."

Judge David Potter said: "You are in the judgement of this court a devious sexual offender who has flouted, deliberately, on previous occasions and on this occasion devices in order for you to circumvent the restrictions placed upon you. Restrictions which you well know about and have known about for nearly 10 years since you were first convicted of possessing indecent images of children. I have no doubt you were trying to conceal these devices from the police, knowing full well that your possession of those placed you in breach of the sexual harm prevention order.

"I don't consider that the applications that disguised internet activity were in some way accidentally or unintentionally installed. I consider that these applications were deliberately installed to conceal the use by you of the internet so as to leave no trace if the police were ever to investigate this telephone.

"It is an aggravating feature of this case that you have completed a sex offenders' treatment course as part of your previous sentence. Yet within weeks of the completion of that you were found to be in possession of the very items that you are prohibited from possessing without notification to the police."

Lovett, of Burnley Road East, Whitewell Bottom, was jailed for 18 months.