A Port Talbot paedophile facing jail for downloading images of child sex abuse went on the run to Spain where he continued offending, a court has heard.
Simon Dove skipped bail and fled abroad after being charged with more than 30 offences of making and distributing indecent images.
The whereabouts of the 50-year-old remained unknown for six years until police on the Costa del Sol arrested him for his involvement in similar offending in Malaga.
Swansea Crown Court heard that in September 2009 officers investigating the downloading of indecent images went to an address in Port Talbot looking for Dove. Jim Davies, prosecuting, said that present at the property was the daughter of the defendant’s former partner, who handed over two of his computer hard drives. An examination of the drives found the presence of indecent images.
The court heard that the following January police in London went to an address where Dove was staying and seized a number of electronic devices, including a laptop computer. Again indecent images were found along with evidence the defendant had been communicating with fellow paedophiles on Yahoo Messenger, and sharing pictures via peer-to-peer file sharing software.
Dove was interviewed and subsequently charged with 34 counts of making and distributing indecent images and one of possessing extreme pornography, and was bailed to appear at court in April 2010 – but he fled the country, and disappeared.
The prosecutor said the defendant came to the attention of police again – Spanish this time – in July 2016 when officers carried out a search warrant at a property and seized computer equipment which contained a large number of indecent images, some of them “of the very worst kind” showing young children being sexually tortured. Spanish police also found Dove had again been sharing the images with like-minded people through peer-to-peer software.
Check what crimes have been reported in your area:
The following year Dove was sentenced to five years in prison by a court in Malaga, and then in 2020 he was extradited back to the UK.
Simon Matthew Dove, of Homelands Drive, Upper Norwood, London, had previously pleaded guilty to 34 counts of possession and distribution of indecent images and to one count of possession of extreme pornography when he appeared in the dock via videolink from prison for sentencing.
Eugene Hickey, for Dove, said with the Spanish prison sentence and the nine months the defendant had spent on remand in custody following his return to the UK, his client had served the equivalent of a significant sentence. He said they were his instructions that Dove had received counselling for his offending while in the Spanish system, and he asked the court to consider whether making the defendant serve an extra period in custody – one that would in all likelihood only be of a short or moderate length – would best serve the public.
Judge Huw Rees said Dove’s interest in “filthy material” was obvious not only from the images found on his devices in the UK but from the conviction in Spain. But he said there was “no purpose” in imposing a further period of custody.
Giving the defendant a 25% discount for his guilty pleas to the possession charges and a 20% discount for his guilty pleas to the distribution charges which were entered at a later date, the judge sentenced him to a total of 18 months in prison suspended for 18 months, and ordered him to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and a rehabilitation course which will include a sex offenders programme. Dove will be a registered sex offender for the next 10 years, and was made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order for the same length of time.
To get the latest news from Walesonline sent straight to your email inbox click here