Swaledale man jailed for online child abuse offences

Peter Reynolds.

A Swaledale man has been jailed for online child abuse offences.

Peter John Reynolds, aged 48, from Downholme, was sentenced to two years in prison at Teesside Crown Court today after pleading guilty to all four offences last month.

These included two counts of an adult attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child, who he believed to be two young girls who he had met online.

One of these offences took place between 24 August and 18 October, and the other between 1 and 19 October 2021.

In each case, Reynolds sent a series of sexual images and engaged in sexualised chat.

What he had not realised was that he was communicating with the police throughout this time.

When the “girls” confirmed their ages as 12 and 13 to him during these chats, Reynolds continued with the sexualised conversation despite believing they were children.

An operation was carried out during the early hours of 20 October to arrest him.

A search warrant was also executed at his home address where various devices and other potential evidence were seized as part of the investigation.

Reynolds was already in the Sex Offenders Register due to a previous conviction for inciting a girl aged between 13 and 15 to engage in sexual activity in November 2015.

He received a suspended sentence and was made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO).

This meant Reynolds was also charged with a breach of the SHPO for using a mobile phone that he was prohibited to use, as well as attempting to breach the SHPO in relation to communication with females aged under 16.

Detective Constable Tom Sutcliffe, of the Online Abuse and Exploitation Team, led the investigation which secured the conviction.

He said: “Reynolds continues to have a deeply disturbing sexual interest in children, to the extent that he was prepared to break the public protection measures that were put in place at the end of 2016 when he was sentenced for a similar offence.

“He knew only too well that if he was caught again he would go to prison, which is exactly how it has turned out.

“Reynolds, and other child sexual offenders like him, need to realise that the police are watching them like hawks.

“One wrong move and we will pounce before they themselves have a chance to prey on vulnerable young victims.”