A landmark court ruling has prevented a convicted sex offender from using the popular messaging app Snapchat, according to The Independent.


Judge David Griffith-Jones QC found David King had breached the terms of a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO) by using Snapchat on his phone. He is banned from using any device incapable of retaining and displaying its internet history under the terms of his SOPO.


King was convicted of two offences of sexual activity with a child, and two offences of possessing indecent photographs of her, and was initially given a suspended sentence in September 2013.


In February 2014, he was jailed for breaching the terms of his bail by contacting his victim and meeting her at his bail hostel. The judge sentencing him condemned him for his “arrogant approach”.


He had agreed to the terms of the SOPO when he was initially convicted of abusing his victim.



Messages, photos and videos sent through Snapchat self-destruct shortly after being opened unless the receiver takes a screenshot before they disappear. The sex offender claimed that although he understood how Snapchat worked, he thought his history would be retained “somewhere”.


He initially denied the breach, with his defence lawyer attempting to claim that Snapchat didn’t prevent his LG mobile phone from saving his browsing history. However, he pleaded guilty to the offence, after two experts proved that content sent to King via Snapchat could only be viewed using specialist forensic software.


The ruling that the SOPO had been breached by using Snapchat is the first of its kind in the UK.


Judge Griffith-Jones said he believed King had acted “naively and recklessly rather than with malevolent intent".


He sentenced him to 10 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months; and warned him against using such apps again.



“Communications will be routinely destroyed automatically, leaving no, or no significant, trace,” said Judge Griffith-Jones.


“It's precisely the kind of application which offenders such as yourself, subject to restrictions, should conscientiously avoid.”


The judge remarked that Snapchat was popular “precisely because” of its self-destructing feature while passing sentence, according to The Telegraph.


King is still bound to obey his SOPO, and is banned from unsupervised contact with under-16s. He is also on the sex offenders register.


This ruling is certainly welcome news for parents everywhere; it’s a small step towards creating safer technology for our kids and teens.