South Shields sex offender, 38, put behind bars after using Snapchat and WhatsApp on his phone

Paul Cummings has been jailed for 15 months
-Credit: (Image: Northumbria Police)


A sex offender has been put behind bars after using Snapchat and WhatsApp on his phone.

Paul Cummings was previously convicted of attempting to meet a girl under 16 following grooming in September 2020. The 38-year-old was made subject to a sexual harm prevention order and notification requirement.

He went on to breach the order and attempted to engage in sexual communication with a child in November 2022.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how two police officers visited Cummings' home in South Shields on December 14 last year and examined his mobile phone. They discovered that the Snapchat app had been used the previous day.

Gabrielle Wilks, prosecuting, said the WhatsApp app had also been accessed the same day. She said: "Neither of the apps appeared to be present on the device and therefore they had been deleted."

When asked if he had used Snapchat the previous day, Cummings said: "I'm sorry I was only going to use it to pay for pictures of adults".

His phone was seized and found to contain 18 items of deleted website history, four alias names and a Lloyds bank account, which police had not been notified about. The history included visits to EE, BT, WWE, Lloyds bank and Hello magazine.

Cummings, of Woodhouse Court, South Shields, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with a notification requirement and breaching a sexual harm prevention order.

The court in Newcastle heard how he had already breached his sexual harm prevention order on five previous occasions.

Laura Miller, defending, told the court: "It was stupid, it was reckless, he knows that. He knows now the consequences. He's come today having been up for most of the night not being able to sleep because he's scared to go to prison today.

"He knows to expect a custodial sentence today and he's come prepared for that."

Ms Miller said that Cummings was currently in stable accommodation and he would lose that if he was to be sent to prison. She said he had previously worked well with the probation service and could be made subject to a suspended sentence order.

Recorder Tony Hawks told Cummings: "Because of offences that you have committed in relation to children in 2000 and 2022 you are a registered sex offender. You are also subject to a sexual harm prevention order. On no less than five previous occasions you have breached the notification requirements or sexual harm prevention order.

"It's said that you now understand what these requirements mean. Well you have been sent to prison twice already for breaching them so I find it difficult to know that you didn't know in advance what the consequences may be.

"You are a registered sex offender. These orders are in place to regulate your activity and any risk that you present to the public.

"You are a man who has persistently breached these requirements. And so I don't think there's any alternative other than to impose a period of imprisonment that will be immediate."

Recorder Hawks sentenced Cummings to 15 months in prison.