A MOTHER and her sex offender son are facing court over allegations they tried to talk witnesses out of giving evidence against him.

Ian Pritchard was convicted after a trial last summer of a series of attacks on vulnerable females aged between 14 and 24.

He is now serving a 12-year sentence at a youth detention centre in Buckinghamshire after being branded a "clear danger" by a judge.

Pritchard is said to have conspired with his mother Pamela Shoulder, 46, to influence his Teesside Crown Court trial last June.

It is claimed a number of phone calls between the pair, while Pritchard was held on remand, were designed to scupper the prosecution.

Mrs Shoulder, of Pounteys Close, Middleton-St-George, near Darlington, has been charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.

The ice cream parlour boss also faces a joint allegation - along with her 20-year-old son - of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

She did not enter a plea at a preliminary hearing, and returns to court in March for a plea and case management hearing.

There were problems with a live video-link to Aylesbury Young Offenders' Institution, and Pritchard did not appear for the case.

Judge George Moorhouse also adjourned his case until March 7, when both defendants will be asked to plead "guilty" or "not guilty".

A date of 19 May has been set for a potential trial, which could last up to four days, prosecutor Richard Bennett told the judge.

Transcripts of phone calls between Pritchard while he was on remand at Holme House Prison, Stockton, and his mother have been prepared.

Detectives are also looking potential computer evidence, and the possible use of social networking site Facebook to contact witnesses.

Pritchard was subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for filming himself in a sex act with a girl when he targeted his other victims.

The trial jury heard that one young woman was kicked and punched and branded with a red-hot cigarette lighter during a campaign of bullying and intimidation.

He admitted during his two-week trial that he found 'normal' sex "boring" but denied resorting to perverted measures for his kicks.

Pritchard, then of Water View, Middleton-St-George, abused his victims physically, mentally and sexually, said Mr Bennett during the trial.

Judge Peter Bowers - who presided over the trial - described Pritchard's attacks as "sadistic" at the end of the case in July.

He continued to protest his innocence after being convicted of 13 counts of rape, sexual activity with a child, sexual assault and assault.