A FORMER soldier has been put behind bars for failing to give up the pin to his iPhone to authorities.

Ashley Grace was previously handed a suspended sentence of imprisonment in February 2018 after admitting possession of ‘small number’ of indecent images of children.

The now 61-year-old appeared back before Chester Crown Court to be sentenced on the phone pin matter, having been convicted following a trial at an earlier hearing.

He faced a charge of failing to comply with a section 49 notice to disclose the key to protected information.

Details of the offence were given to the court by Oliver King, representing the prosecution, who explained how it occurred on September 13, 2022, in Runcorn.

Grace, having been required to disclose the pin code to protected information, in the form of the contents of his iPhone, to investigating authorities, he failed to do so.

The court heard of his previous conviction from 2018, where he pleaded guilty to making category B and C indecent images of children, distributing a category B image and possession of nine indecent images, after a search of his phone and WhatsApp, by police in Runcorn.

His defence counsel at the time said there were no terms found in his search history indicating he had been looking for them and claimed there was ‘no rational explanation’ for why he had sent an obscene image of a child.

The court heard Grace had no previous convictions and had served in the Army with the King’s Regiment, completing two tours of Northern Ireland.

Judge Simon Berkson sentenced him to four months in prison suspended for 18 months.

For the pin code offence, Grace, of Hilltop in Runcorn, was sentenced by judge Patrick Thompson to nine months immediate imprisonment.

In addition, the court imposed a sexual harm prevention order, which will run for the next 10 years, as well as an order for the forfeiture and destruction of the mobile phone.