A SNEAKY sex offender has been jailed after he acquired a secret phone and computer and hid them away in a padlocked toolbox.

Mark Jarrett has a history of spying on boys in public toilets or playgrounds and was subject of an order which meant he had to tell the police about any devices he owned.

He bought a phone and a Samsung tablet computer which he used to download child abuse images from the internet and USB storage sticks on which to store them.

He was caught when staff at a hostel where he was living in South Devon realised what he was doing and tipped off the police. They made three unannounced visits in the space of five months and found he had banned items and images.

They also seized a desk diary in which Jarrett had recorded his sinister online activity and visits to playgrounds. He refused to tell the police the PIN numbers for his devices, saying: ‘You don’t own me. Go to hell.’

A preliminary examination of the phone’s memory card showed 57 images of boys aged eight to 14, of which one movie and 27 stills depicted them suffering very serious abuse at the hands of adults.

Police also found a hoard of pornographic cartoons which showed boys taking part in various forms of sexual activity.

Jarrett, aged 55, formerly of Plymouth but now of Factory Row, Torquay, admitted five offences of downloading or possessing indecent or prohibited images of children and two of breaching a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO).

He was jailed for three years by Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court, who told him his offences were made more serious by his previous convictions and the fact that he repeatedly defied attempts by the police to supervise him.

He said: ‘Your life has lacked much achievement. You have led a lonely and asocial life. You recognise how powerfully you are drawn to access indecent images of children. I hope you recognise the appalling harm cause by their creation.’

Mr Ryan Murray, prosecuting, said Jarrett was required by his SHPO to tell police about all his internet connected devices but only declared an old Nokia mobile.

Staff tipped off his offender manager on March 28 that he was using another phone or tablet and a search revealed one of each along with some USB sticks. He refused to give the PIN, saying ‘you don’t own me’.

A download of the memory card showed there were 56 images and one video and 66 indecent cartoons and one video of boys. Further searches on July 7 and August 11 uncovered more devices.

Jarrett responded to the final visit by lying on his bed and telling the police to ‘go to hell’ Officers became suspicious of a toolbox which had a combination padlock on it. Jarrett refused to tell them the number but the unscrewed the sides and found another hidden tablet device.

An A4 diary was found in which he wrote references to downloading images and watching children at  playparks. As he was led away he told officers that he should never have been released from prison.

Jarrett has convictions for 55 offences dating back to 2007 which include downloading images, voyeurism, and breaking previous SHPOs by going to children’s play areas.

Mr Brian Fitzherbert, defending, said Jarrett suffered abuse as a child in care and now lived an isolated existence in which he spent most of his time watching television in his room at a hostel.

He is keen to address his problems and wants to be sent to a prison where he can undertake a sex offenders’ treatment programme.