Woman convicted of indecent images caught talking to schoolgirl on Instagram

A woman who had been banned from communicating with children is found to have forbidden Instagram conversations with a 14-year-old girl.

Rachel Smith, was caught with indecent images and was subject to a sexual harm prevention order which was imposed in 2018.

However, the 56-year-old was caught exchanging messages what appeared to be with a child, despite being punished for having child abuse images.

Officers discovered the chats after going to check on her and examining her phone, reports Chronicle Live.

Although there was no sexual content from Smith, the teenager had told Smith she fancied her and asked to see what was under her shirt, which she refused to show.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Smith said she initially believed the girl was 18. She had been warned of her true age by a relative but continued to communicate with her.

The 56-year-old, of Brinkburn Street, East Howdon, North Tyneside, pleaded guilty to breaching the sexual harm prevention order and was sentenced to a three year community order.

Amy Levitt, prosecuting, said Smith was sentenced to six months suspended for two years in 2018 for the indecent images offences and was made subject to the sexual harm prevention order for ten years.

In July this year, police went to her home to do a risk review.

Miss Levitt said: "They asked to look at her mobile phone and when searching on it they discovered messages on Instagram between the defendant and a female who appeared young from her images.

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"They were in regular communication and discussed the girl's days at school.

"Some of the messages referenced the female fancying the defendant and her school teacher.

"She called her 'mum' and asked what was under her shirt but the defendant refused to send a picture."

Smith said the girl had contacted her first.

Miss Levitt added: "She said she believed the girl was 18 but her aunt contacted her to say stop communicating with her as she was only 14.

"So she had been told to stop talking to the female and did not."

The court heard Smith has a conviction for indecent assault from 1994 among 50 previous convictions.

She had a difficult childhood and has ongoing issues with alcohol, depression and anxiety and that there was a "meeting of minds" with the girl, Judge Robert Spragg said.

The judge added that she would be "vulnerable and easily exploited" if sent to prison and that the public would be better served by a lengthy community order.

Penny Hall, defending, said: "There is no reference at all to anything sexual. It is not excessive conversations, the charge related to one day.

"There was a request to see under the defendant's shirt which was refused outright.

"There are complex circumstances to her background.

"She has recently started her own business and she cares for a friend who she previously resided with."

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