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Sexual offender who sent ‘horrific’ fantasies to cellmate in exchange for holidays spared jail

PUBLISHED: 16:04 09 January 2019 | UPDATED: 16:04 09 January 2019

Peter Nigel Ashford sent 40 'horrific' messages to his former cellmate. Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

Peter Nigel Ashford sent 40 'horrific' messages to his former cellmate. Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

A repeat sexual offender who discussed fantasies involving five-year-olds with his former cellmate has been spared jail.

Great Yarmouth Magistrates Court. Google MapsGreat Yarmouth Magistrates Court. Google Maps

Peter Nigel Ashford, 66, of Wellington Esplanade, Lowestoft, sent a number of “horrific and appalling” messages before destroying his SIM card, despite being made to sign the sex offender register for life in 2001.

In the messages, Ashford talked about girls in parks, including a five-year-old with learning difficulties, and said: “age means everything to me.”

Nicola Pope, prosecuting, said: “He was using a mobile phone to communicate with another sex offender from Romania, with 40 grossly offensive messages found between March and July.

“He admitted sending these messages, but said they were fabricated fantasies and no victim was involved.

“There were conversations backwards and forwards between them.

“He destroyed the SIM card a few days before he was arrested, but some of the messages were recovered.

“Throughout his criminal record there are convictions spanning a number of decades which will cause concern and shows a continuing risk.”

Ashford, whose last conviction was in 2011, pleaded guilty to sending offensive and indecent messages on September 24 when he appeared at Great Yarmouth Magistrates’ Court on November 28.

At that hearing, the court heard how the pensioner was “erotically winding up” his former cellmate, a Romanian who previously lived in Lowestoft, in the hope of “keeping in his good books” and going to Romania on holiday.

James Hartley, defending, said: “These messages are horrific and appalling and he is thoroughly ashamed. There is a difference between fantasy and putting it into practice.

“He threw the SIM card away because it was out of credit and he did not want it anymore.”

Ashford also admitted failing to comply with notification requirements for the sex offender register after failing to declare an American Express bank card, which he told the court was through a “misunderstanding” while registering his cards.

He returned to court on Wednesday, January 9, where magistrates handed him a 16-week prison sentence for the messages, and a four week sentence for the failure to comply, with both sentences running concurrently and suspended for 18 weeks.

He was also ordered to sign a Sexual Harm Prevention Order until further notice, to carry out 30 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days, and must pay £85 court costs and a £150 victim surcharge.

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