December 2010

Carer sentenced after admitting child porn charges

A PLYMPTON man found with nearly 4,000 indecent images of children on his computer told police he was an undercover vigilante tracking real internet paedophiles, a court heard.

But Alexander Steer, aged 30 and from Wolverwood Close, later admitted 12 charges of making indecent images, one of possessing indecent images, three of distributing them and one of incitement.

Prosecutor Louise Howard said that when police raided Steer’s home on November 13 last year, they found a laptop, a desktop computer and a memory stick containing 3,557 indecent images at level one, 26 at level two, 14 at level three and seven at level four, plus four movies at levels one and two.

Level one is the least serious and level five the most serious.

They discovered Steer had visited internet chat-rooms and used the Google Hello network.

He also had a handwritten list of email addresses of people with similar tastes, graded by their level of interest.

He told police he had posed as a young girl or a man with children online because he was acting as a vigilante, but had been afraid to go to the police as he thought they would not believe him. He denied having a sexual interest in children.

Jason Beal, for Steer, said his client had tried to build up defence mechanisms to justify what he had done, but had now begun to face up to his actions.

Steer was a full-time carer for his disabled mother, he said.

Passing sentence, Judge Paul Darlow told Steer: “Child pornography means the loss of innocence and the theft of childhood from all those children subjected to that humiliation.

“Those who indulge in that interest perpetrate this beastly business, which in many cases comes back to haunt them (the children) in later life.”

He sentenced Steer to 36 months’ supervision by the Probation Service, ordered him to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register, imposed a Sexual Offences Prevention Order and ordered him to complete the Internet Sex Offenders’ Treatment Programme.