A CONVICTED west Cumbrian sex offender whose computer must be monitored by the police secretly gained access to a private network.

At Carlisle Crown Court, a judge warned Andrew Snell, 44, that he is likely to be jailed if he repeats the offence and puts himself in breach of his Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

The defendant, of St Bridget’s Court, Calder Bridge, Seascale, admitted breaching the order.

Prosecutor Kim Whittlestone said the defendant was previously guilty of offences that involved him downloading indecent images of children and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

A Sexual Harm Prevention Order was imposed as a result.

Its terms included Snell having monitoring software on any internet-enabled device he had access to.

He is also barred from having access to any virtual private network.

Yet officers became aware that he did have access to such a network on a laptop he was using.

Judge Nicholas Barker told Snell that the appropriate sentence was a six-month community order with a curfew.

He told the defendant: “Andrew Snell, you must understand that these court orders are there for two reasons.

“They are there to protect the wider public from any offending by you and they are there as well to prevent offending by individuals and so protect them.

“They perform in a way a rehabilitation purpose, which is to ensure defendants don’t have available to them facilities to commit crime in a way that they have done previously.” The order also included the “ultimate” threat of custody, said the judge.

“You have breached this order by gaining access to a virtual network,” continued the judge. “And that was to gain access to American Netflix.

“That’s accepted. But you must observe the terms of this order.” The judge warned that having breached the order once, there was an “overwhelming likelihood” Snell will be jailed if he breaches it again.

The community order includes a 6pm to 6am curfew. The 2018 case against Snell heard that he amassed hundreds of indecent images of children on his computer. He also asked a 14-year-old girl to strip in front of a web cam. The defendant appeared in court via a video link.