A hypnotist who hit the headlines after a council broke with tradition to allow him to perform in the town centre is now in prison for fraud and hacking.

Robert Temple performed at Bolton's Albert Halls on February 10 after an application for a licence which made it into the local news and national news last month.

He has also performed at venues across Lancashire, including in Darwen and Bacup. 

On March 18, however, the hypnotist from Bishop Auckland, County Durham, was sentenced at Teesside Crown Court to eight months in prison for fraud and hacking, as well as concealing criminal property, all of which he had admitted at Nottingham Magistrates' Court previously.

Lancashire Telegraph: Robert Temple

The CPS said that in May 2021, police received a report from Action Fraud about an online forum in which users could make requests anonymously for explicit photographs of named women.

Temple hacked the Snapchat accounts of two women and subsequently downloaded private pictures, including topless and nude pictures, to then sell them online.

Investigators traced the unauthorised social media account access to the defendant’s home.

Temple also committed identity fraud to mask his criminal activities by setting up cryptocurrency accounts in a woman’s name, but operated by him without her knowledge.

He used the accounts to conceal the funds raised from selling the hacked, intimate photos.

In interview, the defendant admitted that he used these accounts to layer funds obtained from selling items obtained illegally, the CPS said

Annette Thomas, senior crown prosecutor with CPS East Midlands, said: “The actions of Robert Temple were utterly reprehensible.

“Using insidious tactics, he exploited these unsuspecting women by hacking into their social media accounts and sharing intimate images of them online, without their knowledge, all for financial greed.

“Let this conviction be clear to those who hide behind a screen to commit their crimes, you cannot hide from the law and the Crown Prosecution Service will continue to work to achieve justice for victims of cybercrime.”

Temple was on tour this month and must have expected to avoid jail as performances of his Red Raw – named after his dyed hair – were scheduled for this week.

Temple was set to perform six shows between now and March 30, according to his website, but the shows appear to be unavailable on the venues' websites.

A post on social media by The Brewhouse, Burton-on-Trent, and The West Cliff Theatre, Clacton-on-Sea, said it was a result of "unforeseen circumstances".

A post on social media by The West Cliff Theatre said: "Due to unforeseen circumstances this show is cancelled by the promoters.

"You will be contacted by our box office if you have tickets for this show. Please be patient and we will contact you. Thank you."

Lancashire Telegraph: Robert Temple in the poster for Red Raw

Temple applied for a licence for his show, Red Raw, around two weeks before the performance at the Albert Halls on February 10.

Under the Hypnotism Act, any act in which someone's "susceptibility to suggestion" is increased or intended to be increased is in need of permission from the authorities on pain of a fine of £1000, although Bolton Council is understood to be one of few authorities to apply the act.

Effectively it has had a blanket ban on the practice since 1982 when it received the power to licence entertainment in public places.

It broke with more than 40 years of tradition when it allowed the performance for which hundreds of tickets had been sold already.

Sean Fielding, the chair of the committee on the day, said: "I would like to thank Mr Temple for his statement referring to the relevant parts of the act and the relevant parts of Bolton Council policy. I am sorry he went to so much trouble. There was a book I was bought called Strange Laws of Old England and I think this regulation brought in by Bolton Council more than 40 years ago might make it into a subsequent edition.

"The first question I asked was can we repeal whatever regulation it is which made us come together this afternoon as it seems to be a bit dated."

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email jack.tooth@newsquest.co.uk or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.