A Weymouth paedophile was dubbed a “persistent breacher” of his sexual harm prevention order after he was caught using the internet four times in public libraries to check his pension and browse the internet. Victor Peter Balfour, aged 68, was made subject to a lengthy sexual harm prevention order in 2015 after he was caught with indecent images on his mobile phone of him.
Prosecutor Tom Cockroft told Oxford Crown Court how Balfour was jailed in 2019 but on a day release, walked into Westgate Library in Oxford to check on his pension on a computer. He explained that the terms of his court order, which is in force to prevent him from causing further harm to the public, strictly monitors his internet usage from him and prohibit Balfour from using computers and devices that cannot record internet browsing history.
Balfour used his library card to access the computer, which did not record his browsing history. Mr Cockroft explained how Balfour was subsequently arrested and in police interview told officers that “he accepted using the computers and was not aware they did not retain the internet history and didn’t know that it was in breach of his sexual harm prevention order.”
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A previous court appearance at Oxford Crown Court saw Judge Ian Pringle issue a deferred sentence for April 2022, but Balfour, who had moved back to Weymouth, breached his court order yet again by using the computers at the town’s library on three occasions. Referring to the first breach, Mr Cockroft said: “On December 30, 2021, a library assistant was working in the library and Balfour approached her and wanted to use the computer. He said he didn’t have a library card, so he was booked in as a guest.
“He asked if they kept a history of website access, and she said they did not and was set to private browsing to protect others from websites previously being accessed. This was captured on CCTV. She saw him using the internet for 10 minutes.”
He returned to the library on Saturday, January 29 and Monday, January 31, and was booked to use computers by another library assistant where it was observed he accessed the internet again.
Balfour was arrested for the breaches of his court order, where he told police officers he “thought they did retain internet history as before he was in prison.” He also denied speaking to a library staff member about whether the computers retained internet history and said “he went onto the internet for innocent purposes.”
Balfour, of Turton Street in Weymouth, previously pleaded guilty to breaching his sexual harm prevention order on four occasions and awaited sentence today (Thursday, May 12). Balfour was subject to an indefinite sexual harm prevention order after prior breaches, and was previously jailed for 36 months in January 2019 after being caught by paedophile hunters in an online sting.
Lyle Thompson, defending, told the court that “the penny has dropped” for Balfour and he had realized that using the internet in such a manner was in breach of his court order. Mr Thompson said: “He is a 68-year-old man with little life skills and wanted to use the internet.
“There is no evidence he used the internet for harm (…) and it all appears to be for a matter of minutes. Staff and members of the public have not gone past the screen and seen anything illegal.”
He added: “It is in my submission not a case of a devious man who is doing what he can to get around court orders and sexual desires, he is frankly a man who is unable to follow straightforward orders from the court.”
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Judge Pringle in his sentencing was left aghast at how Balfour continued to defy his court order and described them as “persistent breaches of a court order.” He added that Balfour knew he was breaching his court order and continued to do so despite warnings from the court.
He said: “You wandered into the Weymouth Library and went onto the computer, which was in breach of a court order from 2015 and was extended in 2019. You even asked the library assistant whether the computer you were accessing kept internet history and you were told no.
“You went on that computer for 10 minutes. You went back, helped onto the computer for 20 to 30 minutes and you then went back in again.”
Balfour was jailed for 20 months, which included four months for the breach at Westgate Library and 16 months to run concurrently with each for the three offenses at Weymouth Library.
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