Santa’s elf exposed as paedophile will spend Christmas in prison

A paedophile has been sent back to prison after he was caught working as an elf at a Santa event for children.

Robert Checkley had served a custodial sentence for having indecent images of youngsters.

He was subject to stringent conditions as part of a sexual harm prevention order and was on the sex offenders register.

One of the conditions meant he should not have taken on a job likely to bring him into contact with children, without permission from the police.

He started working as a barman at a pub which catered for families, without disclosing his conviction.

And when a breakfast with Santa event was organised, the manager dressed as Father Christmas while Checkley and another staff member took on the role of elves and they served the youngsters food.

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Now the 31-year-old will spend this Christmas behind bars after he was jailed for 16 months for breaching his sexual harm prevention order and sex offenders register requirements.

Newcastle Crown Court heard Checkley, of Hartford Grove, Cramlington, who was convicted of the indecent images offence in 2015, obtained employment with Greene King pubs in September 2017.

He was appointed as a barman a the Bear and Ragged Staff pub, in Kenilworth, Warwickshire.

The court heard it was not until February 7 that staff became aware of Checkley's previous conviction, as a result of a post on Facebook by his ex-girlfriend.

By that time he had moved on and was working and living at a pub called the Red Arrow.

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Prosecutor Emma Dowling said: "The defendant worked that day at the breakfast for Santa.

“This defendant dressed as an elf with one other staff member while the general manager was dressed as Santa.

"Children were provided with breakfast served by the the elves and Santa."

He also breached his sex offender registration requirements by not telling the police where he was living.

Having been released under investigation by police, he moved to the Northumberland area, where he breached the order again by getting a job at The Range shop, in Gateshead, in July 2018, through an agency.

He failed to disclose his previous conviction to secure the job at the shop, which stocks a range of items including toys.

That came to light in August 2018 when he was stopped for drink driving and told police where he was working.

The court heard the shop, who had "assumed the agency carried out all the relevant checks", terminated his employment.

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Checkley admitted two counts of breaching his sexual harm prevention order and one of breaching his sex offenders registration requirements.

Judge Sarah Mallett told him: "You put yourself off the radar and in a position where you could have committed a sexual offence.

"It's important to note you did not but these were deliberate, calculated breaches, in my view."

The judge added: "You involved yourself with a children's Christmas activity in a pub and it brought you into contact with the children who attended that function.

"It's said you didn't want to attend the function but you did and it created a risk for the children involved.

"However there was no harm, the children would have been accompanied by their parents, you were not alone with the children and your employment was not selected to put you in contact with children."

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Richard Herrmann, defending, claimed Checkley was not asked about his conviction or given an opportunity to disclose it when getting the job in the pub, which he said he took as he was desperate and facing losing his benefits if he did not find employment.

He added that he didn't perceive the pub as being likely to bring him into contact with children, claiming it was in a "rough area" and mainly used by adults.

Mr Herrmann said Checkley was not "in any way pleased to be asked to dress as an elf" and considered staying off sick to avoid having to do it.

He also said only a small number of youngsters turned up for it, with their parents.

Mr Hermann added that Checkley had volunteered to police that he was working at The Range in the warehouse after his arrest for excess alcohol.

He told the court: "There was limited, if any, risk."

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