A paedophile from Runcorn has been ordered to complete a rehabilitation programme after breaching a Sexual Offences Prohibition Order (SHPO).

Anthony King, 24, of Hedge Hey, was handed an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, at Chester Crown Court for refusing to tell police the whereabouts of his internet-capable phone, just months after being released from prison.

The court heard King had exchanged social media and text messages with a teenage runaway and had sent the girl 鈥榥on-pornographic鈥?photographs of himself.

Another girl saw the communications and told the police.

At an earlier hearing, Mandy Nepal, prosecuting, said he gave a no comment interview but produced a pre-prepared statement in which he said he had not made sexual advances or received or requested photographs.

When police arrested him on June 13 last year, officers seized two phones which turned out to belong to someone else as King refused to disclose where his device was, as required under the terms of a SHPO imposed along with a 25-month prison sentence in February 2015 for making indecent images of a child and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

The offences included online grooming and three victims.

Breaching the SHPO meant he had to return to prison to serve the remainder of that sentence, finishing the full term on March 27.

Paul Wood, defending, said King鈥檚 SHPO breach only related to June 13 last year when he refused to disclose his phone鈥檚 location to police rather than the five weeks when he had been in communication with one of the victims.

He also appealed for credit for King鈥檚 guilty plea.

The court heard the phone in question was never found and that offences were not committed against the runaway and one of the other girls.

Mr Wood conceded that the probation officer who wrote King鈥檚 pre-sentence report was concerned that King鈥檚 鈥榖ehaviour could have escalated鈥?

He said rehabilitation work to 鈥榓ddress his underlying issues鈥?was the 鈥榖est form of protection鈥?for the public.

Presiding judge Recorder Jeremy Lasker said there were 鈥榳orrying aspects鈥?of the case including the timing after King鈥檚 release from custody and that the girl had run away and was 鈥榲ulnerable鈥? He said that the terms of the SHPO could have been drawn more tightly to have ensured police were already aware of his device.

He said: 鈥淚t seems to me there鈥檚 no requirement for him to register any internet capable piece of equipment or to connect it to so many pieces of equipment.

鈥淚t seems to me if one of these girls hadn鈥檛 gone to the police, nobody would have come to look at the defendant鈥檚 equipment.?/p>

Suspending King鈥檚 sentence, Recorder Lasker said: 鈥淵ou were convicted before Warrington Crown court and sentenced by that court to a custodial sentence I think of 25 months in length together with a SHPO which was to remain in force for 10 years. And those offences related to sexual offences committed by you involving the obtaining of photographs of young children and other sexual offences involving young children.

鈥淵ou were released from that sentence on March 11 of last year, and committed this offence for which I have to sentence you today, on June 13 of last year, so really three months after your release from imprisonment.?/p>

In addition to his suspended sentence, King received a 40-day rehabilitation requirement and was ordered to complete a sex offender treatment programme.