A convicted sex offender has been found guilty of breaching a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) by using Snapchat, in a landmark case.
David King had been banned from using any device incapable of retaining and displaying its internet history.
He originally denied breaching the SOPO, with his defence arguing that Snapchat did not prevent his LG phone from saving his browsing history.
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Messages sent through the ephemeral photo- and video-sharing app self-destruct after they’ve been seen by the recipient.
King admitted to knowing how Snapchat works, but claimed he thought his history would be retained “somewhere”.
However, he pleaded guilty this week after two experts explained that the content sent by King via Snapchat could only be viewed with the aid of specialist forensic software.
“Communications will be routinely destroyed automatically, leaving no, or no significant, trace,” said Judge David Griffith-Jones QC.
“It’s precisely the kind of application which offenders such as yourself, subject to restrictions, should conscientiously avoid.”
Judge Griffith-Jones sentenced King to 10 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, “on the basis [he] acted naively and recklessly rather than with malevolent intent.” He is still subject to the same SOPO.
It’s the first time a sex offender has been prosecuted in the UK for breaching a SOPO with Snapchat.
King left Maidstone Crown Court “grinning and waving his arms jubilantly”, according to the .
The 27-year-old was given a suspended sentence of 16 months in prison in September 2013, for two offences of sexual activity with a child and two offences of possessing indecent photographs of her.
He was also banned from having unsupervised contact with under-16s and placed on the sex offenders register.
However, King was imprisoned in February 2014, having breached the terms of the order by contacting his victim five times and meeting her at his bail hostel.