A SEX offender put his mother under "palpable pressure"to help him scupper a police case against him, a court heard yesterday (Thursday, July 17).

Ian Pritchard was on remand in jail awaiting a trial last year when he got Pamela Shoulder to deactivate two Facebook accounts.

His telephone calls were monitored and prison authorities discovered that the pair were plotting to derail the prosecution.

Pritchard also dictated a letter to a victim and asked her to deliver it to his solicitors - insisting he had done no wrong.

The attempts proved futile as Pritchard was convicted after a Teesside Crown Court trial last summer and locked up for 12 years.

He was branded "a clear danger" by a judge after being found guilty of a series of sickening attacks on four vulnerable females.

His barrister, Kieran Rainey, told the court yesterday: "He now very much regrets dragging his mother into it.

"It has always been his concern that his mother was not blamed for things that were not her responsibility."

Jonathan Walker, for Shoulder, 46, added: "Palpable pressure was exerted on this mother at a very testing time.

"This is an ugly chapter in their lives and one they would wish to move on from as quickly as is humanly possible."

Prosecutor Richard Bennett said the pair planned to "get at" witnesses, and hide potential evidence from the police.

Pritchard had used Facebook accounts - one under a false name - to contact and chat with his victims before abusing them.

After they had been deactivated by Shoulder, detectives were unable to retrieve any of the messages from them, said Mr Bennett.

"He knew his accounts would contain information which could provide strength to the prosecution case, and be potentially catastrophic to the defence case," he added.

"The phone calls demonstrated Shoulder was trawling through his accounts at his direction. Both expressed concern that this information would fall into the hands of the police."

Shoulder, of Pounteys Close, Middleton-St-George, near Darlington, admitted conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

Her son, now being held at HMP Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire, pleaded guilty to the same charge, and also perverting justice.

Pritchard, then of Water View, Middleton-St-George, was subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for filming himself in a sex act with a girl when he targeted his other victims.

He abused his victims physically, mentally and sexually, said prosecutor Mr Bennett, and was convicted of a total of 13 charges of rape, sexual activity with a child, sexual assault and assault.

Yesterday, Judge George Moorhouse jailed him for two years - which will start immediately and not affect his other sentence.

Shoulder was given an 18-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 18 months of Probation Service supervision.