Paedophile who has been offending for 25 years uses 'determination and deception'

Police custody photograph of Ian Mitchell
-Credit: (Image: South Wales Police)

A sex offender joined dating websites using false names in breach of an order designed to control his online activities, a court has heard. Ian Mitchell signed up for sites Plenty of Fish and SilverSingles but police were alerted to his activities by monitoring software on his phone. He was also found with sexual drawings of young girls which he was keeping in a folder of paperwork linked to the course he was doing to try to prevent future offending.

Mitchell has a history of sexual offending stretching back 25 years which began with him sexually abusing a young girl and has gone on to see him being caught multiple times with indecent images and videos. He has even been caught reoffending in prison by collecting newspaper cuttings of pictures of young girls in nativity plays as well as collecting articles about notorious child murderers. Sending him back to prison a judge said he had a history of using "determination and deception" to achieve his goals.

Swansea Crown Court heard that in April this year police were alerted to the fact that the 62-year-old defendant had signed up to dating sites Plenty of Fish and SilverSingles using names other than his own, which he is banned from doing under the terms of a sexual harm prevention order. He was arrested and interviewed and said he was lonely and wanted social interaction. He added he had been on the sites looking for women aged between 40 and 60.

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Ian Spencer Mitchell, of Nolton Court, Blaenymaes, Swansea, had previously pleaded guilty to breaching a sexual harm prevention order when he appeared in the dock for sentencing. He had also previously pleaded guilty to possession of prohibited images of children namely drawings of young girls being sexually abused including one showing a girl holding a teddy bear and man's penis. The court heard the drawings were found among a file of papers related to the Stop It Now online course he was doing via the Lucy Faithfull Foundation – a charity dedicated to preventing child sexual abuse.

The court heard Mitchell has 41 previous convictions for 125 offences. His sexual offending began in 1999 when he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for gross indecency with a child. This offence had seen him sexually assaulting a girl and showing her a pornographic film while masturbating.

In 2005 Mitchell was given an extended sentence as a dangerous offender for making indecent photographs of a child and in 2011 was jailed again and made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for making and possessing indecent images. The following year he was sentenced to three years in prison for once again making and possessing indecent images. Mitchell's offending continued upon his release from prison and in 2015 he was sentenced to 40 months in prison for engaging in online chats about sexual abuse and for distributing indecent images and videos including of Category A which covers the most serious kinds of child sexual abuse and rape.

While serving this sentence at HMP Channings Wood in Devon the defendant was found with a secret stash of newspaper cuttings of pictures of young girls in swimming costumes or in nativity plays in his cell – some of which he had stuck onto pictures of naked woman in a pornographic magazine. He also had a collection of newspaper clippings of stories about notorious child murder cases. For this offending Mitchell was given a second extended sentence in 2017 comprising 12 months in prison followed by a three-year licence period.

The following year the defendant was given another extended sentence as a dangerous offender after police in Swansea found more than 4,000 indecent and prohibited pictures on his phone and in his iCloud storage account,and found he had engaged in sexualised conversations on WhatsApp in which he pretended to be a girl aged 11 to 13.. For making, possessing, and distributing indecent images and breaching a SHPO the defendant was sentenced to two years in prison with an extended three-year licence period. The court heard he breached the SHPO again in 2021 after buying an internet-enabled video games console. His last conviction was in November last year when he was sentenced to 10 months in prison for breaching a sexual harm prevention order by secretly joining Facebook.

Nicola Powell, for Mitchell, said though the prohibited images had been found before his last sentencing took place in November he wasn't charged in connection with them until his release from that sentence. She said the defendant had had the images while in prison serving a previous sentence and had taken them with him upon his release. The barrister said the defendant had told her he did not think the dating websites had been covered by the social media conditions of the sexual harm prevention order and she said he wanted to stress they were adult sites.

Judge Catherine Richards said she had heard the mitigation put forward on behalf of the defendant but said it was up to her whether she accepted the truth of those assertions. She said it was clear the defendant had a sexual interest in children which was "ongoing" and she said his history showed he would use "determination and deception" to achieve his goals. She said she had no doubt the defendant was well aware of the restrictions of the court order but went ahead anyway and she said the level of deception that people in his position would engage in in order to get access to children was well-known.

With the required one-third discount for his guilty pleas Mitchell was sentenced to two years in prison. He will serve up to half that period in custody before being released on licence to serve the remainder in the community.

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