POLICE who carried out a compliance visit at the home of a sex offender discovered three breaches of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

Blackburn magistrates heard Timothy Southwell had a prohibited app on one phone and failed to reveal another phone which had been factory re-set which also in breach of the regulations.

Southwell, 60, of Hollins Lane, Accrington, pleaded guilty to three charges of breaching a Sexual Harm Prevention Order. He was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison suspended for two years with 10 days Rehabilitation Activity Requirement. He was ordered to pay £85 costs and £128 victim surcharge.

Stephanie Varle, prosecuting, said Southwell had been placed on the Sex Offender Register and made subject to the Sexual Harm Prevention Order in 2012 after a conviction relating to 23 offences. They were mostly offences of making indecent offences of children and one of failing to disclose the key to protected information.

"He is not permitted to use any device capable of accessing the internet unless a number of conditions are met," said Miss Varle.

She said Southwell was required to make any devices available for inspection by an officer, was not permitted to delete any history or have any software that is designed to hide any history or encrypt data.

Miss Varle said the mobile phone presented to the police contained an app called "Express VPN LITE" which gives browsers anonymity.

"When he was asked if he had any other devices he said no but his wife immediately corrected him and said there was another phone," said Miss Varle. "That phone had been factory re-set."

Gareth Price, defending, said it was the first breach of the order since it was made 10 years ago.

"The police have sized the devices and examined them and have confirmed there were no illegal images on any of them," said Mr Price.

He said there were two mobile phones involved and one was used by the defendant on a daily basis.

"He accepts downloading the Express VPN LITE app as a general safety device and he knows he should not have downloaded it," said Mr Price. "The other two breaches relate to a phone he wasn't using."

Mr Price said the device wasn't being used because it had been damaged.

"He had tried to fix it by doing a factory re-set but that hadn't worked."