Convicted sex offender watched Wellingborough schoolchildren play football

Northampton Magistrates' Court.
Northampton Magistrates' Court.
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A Wellingborough man who was caught watching children play football is to be sentenced next month.

John Gray, 55, appeared before magistrates in Northampton on Monday (January 16) after breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

The court heard that Gray, of Masefield Close, was convicted of possession of indecent images of children in February 2015 and was ordered not to have unsupervised contact with children.

But on June 14 last year he was seen watching and trying to engage with primary children in the town.

Prosecutor Dan Howe told the court that Gray was spotted by a lunchtime supervisor before scarpering.

He said: “The court heard evidence from a lunchtime supervisor.

“Children play football in a caged area in the school and sometimes it is kicked out of the caged area into a grass area.

“One on occassion she saw a man looking at children.

“In one hand he held a white plastic bag and with the other he was repeatedly touching himself.

“He was seen trying to talk to children close to him.”

When Gray saw he was being watched he walked off.

The incident was reported to the police and Gray was identified as the man watching the children.

Gray strongly denied all charges but was found guilty after a trial last year.

He was due to be sentenced on Monday and warned he could face prison, but a legal technicality meant the case had to be adjourned to Northampton Crown Court.

Mitigating for Gray, Rebecca Dart said her client planned to appeal against the conviction.

She said: “I am pretty aware that Gray does not accept the findings of guilt and will be appealing.

“I am left with little to mitigate as he strongly denies it.

“Clearly a period of custody would be detrimental to him.

“He is a very, very unwell man.”

Gray was ordered to attend Northampton Crown Court on February 3 for sentencing by chairman of the bench Susan Fairley.

He was granted bail on the condition he does not attend any park frequently attended by children under 16 or loiter outside any school premises.