October 2010

Internet paedophile was snared by police in Brazil

A married factory worker living a secret life as an internet paedophile has been snared in a worldwide police dragnet.

John McAreavey, 46, of Princes Road, Ellacombe, Torquay, was jailed for two years at Exeter Crown Court for possessing and distributing child pornography.

He downloaded more than 124,000 images and movies, including some from the worst possible group, of children from six months old to teenagers.

Devon and Cornwall Police raided his home after he was uncovered in an investigation by officers in Brazil.

McAreavey had pleaded guilty to 31 charges of making indecent photographs of a child.

Recorder Ros Collins told him: “You led effectively a secret life.”

She said: “It is activity such as this which fuels the market for these pictures.

“Some of the descriptions I have read are extraordinarily distressing and it cannot go unmarked. It must attract an immediate prison sentence.”

Lee Bremridge, prosecuting, said the case involved an investigation carried out by Brazilian police in March 2008, which was referred to the Child Online Protection Team in London.

Brazilian police had been monitoring a peer-to-peer filing site where people downloaded and shared child pornography and officers discovered one of them was from Torquay.

Devon and Cornwall Police searched McAreavey’s home on March 14 last year.

“There was a substantial number of images and movie files,” said the prosecutor, adding the defendant had carefully organised and named them.

Mr Bremridge said: “There were so many that the police just analysed a section of them. On the day of his arrest, he was downloading 104 files with names indicating an interest in child pornography.

“Images are graded at level one, which is the least offensive, to level five which is the worst possible.

“There were 5,008 pictures and nine movies at level one, 683 pictures and 55 movies at level two and 749 pictures and 37 movies at level three.

“Police classified 1,028 pictures and 119 movies at level four and 76 pictures and 20 movies at level five.

“There were a further 123,965 child abuse images which were downloaded on discs but were not classified by police.”

Mr Bremridge said the defendant was co-operative with police and admitted he had an “obsession”.

“On his own admission, they would then go on to be distributed on a file sharing site,” said the prosecutor.

Martin Salloway, defending, said McAreavey realised the seriousness of his behaviour and would willingly accept help to address it.

“His wife has stood by him,” he said. “He’s worked all his life.”

McAreavey was put on the Sex Offender Register for 10 years and given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for five years.