'Vulnerable' Waterlooville paedophile spared prison by judge after 'unusual circumstances'

A ‘VULNERABLE’ paedophile who breached a court order after he was caught with child abuse images was spared jail due to ‘unusual circumstances’.

By Steve Deeks
Saturday, 18th June 2022, 4:55 am

Simon Howell, 55, admitted being in breach of a sexual harm prevention order and his notification requirements when he flouted the order just eight days after being handed the sentence in October 2020.

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Portsmouth Crown Court heard Howell, of Thrush Walk, Waterlooville, was caught by police on November 3, 2020, having failed to declare six devices with internet access and had also failed to tell officers of a username on Instagram.

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Portsmouth Crown Court Picture: Chris Moorhouse

During a police interview, prosecutor Richard Cherill told the court Howell was ‘evasive at best’.

But despite the breaches normally resulting in a jail term, the court was told of Howell’s ‘difficulties’ - including how he had handed over money to people knocking at his door pleading hardship.

Daniel Reilly, mitigating, issued a strong defence of his client after judge Richard Shepherd interrupted the barrister to tell him he would have to ‘work hard’ to persuade him not to send the defendant to prison. ‘Breaching an order ordinarily results in a custodial sentence,’ the judge said.

But Mr Reilly went on to explain how Howell was someone with a ‘functioning deficit’ who had been sectioned in a psychiatric hospital last year. ‘It was wrongly thought he had learning difficulties as the presentation is similar but he is someone who struggles and becomes confused,’ he said.

Speaking of the Instagram account username, Mr Reilly said: ‘It was his own name. It was not sophisticated or disguised.’

With the judge insisting Howell would have known what the order was, Mr Reilly gave an insight into the problems of the defendant.

The lawyer explained how on one occasion Howell had handed over £250 to a family on his doorstep falsely claiming help - with a banning order now in place for them.

Judge Shepherd, sentencing Howell, said: ‘Ordinarily you should have an immediate custodial sentence but in this case I’m going to do something different.

‘I accept that you are a vulnerable man and you have your own difficulties.’

Howell was given an 11-month sentence suspended for 18 months and told to complete 20 rehabilitation days.

‘This is really unusual for a breach,’ judge Shepherd said.