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Sex offender dressed up as Santa and offered to take pictures with children

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A registered sex offender has been caught dressing up as Father Christmas and offering to take pictures with children for money.

Stephen Brown, 40, put on a Santa Claus suit and called out to parents to take photos outside Fenwicks’ window, on Northumberland Street, in Newcastle.

Security staff in the store became concerned and contacted neighbourhood officers, who then discovered he was subject to a lifetime Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO).

He had also previously served time in jail for possessing indecent images and inciting a child to engage in a sex act.

Brown was then arrested by police and taken into custody at Forth Banks Police Station.

He was later charged with breaching his SOPO and remanded into custody, before appearing at Bedlington Magistrates’ Court on December 2.

There, he was jailed for six weeks after the court heard it was the second breach he had had since being released from prison in January 2017.

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Chief Inspector Steve Wykes, of Northumbria Police, said: ‘Stephen Brown would not have looked out of place on Northumberland Street this weekend dressed as Santa Claus.

‘There has been a fantastic atmosphere in the city in the lead up to Christmas and thousands of people were in the area doing their shopping.

‘Many people would have walked by Brown and thought that it was perfectly normal for him to be offering people the chance to pose for a picture.

‘But security staff at Fenwicks knew something wasn’t quite right and have contacted our officers who have checked his details and taken decisive action.’

He continued: ‘Brown’s SOPO stated that he was not allowed any contact with children unless he had the consent of a parent or guardian who was aware of his convictions.

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‘We believe two people posed for a picture with him but it was clear they had no idea he was a convicted paedophile and he knew what he was doing was wrong.

‘He will spend Christmas in prison and I hope that sends a strong message to both Stephen Brown, and anyone else who is subject to a similar order.’

Brown, of Fawdon Lane, Fawdon, Newcastle, was previously jailed for five years in July 2012 after admitting a string of child sex offences.

A teenage girl had contacted police after an anonymous social media account befriended her and sent a string of sexual messages.

He had encouraged her to perform sex acts and even threatened her when she refused to carry out his demands.

Police were able to identify Brown as behind the account after the girl told police and he was arrested at home.

A number of indecent images of children were then discovered after officers searched the property.

He was arrested and convicted of 14 offences including possession of indecent images, making an indecent image and inciting a child to perform a sex act.

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