A PAEDOPHILE from Faversham who said he viewed 11-year-old girls as “young women” has been handed a community order.
Lewis Harris, 25, of Abbey Fields, appeared at Maidstone Crown Court on Friday, where he admitted looking at indecent images when browsing a website designed as a “meeting place” for those with a sexual interest in children.
His sick exploits were uncovered when police raided the home he shares with his mum in 2007, and found 49 indecent images of children on his computer.
Harris confessed to looking at the images – 43 graded at level one, three at level four and three at the most severe category of level five – to “satisfy his curiosity.” The court was told the photographs featured children aged between eight and 12.
During interview, Harris said that he viewed 11-year-old girls as “young women” and admitted watching pornography featuring young people aged 11 to 18.
He said he realised he must be sick because he liked girls of that age.
The court was told Harris looked at the material for a short period in 2007, when he was “emotionally immature” and had retreated into the world of the internet.
He subscribed to an internet chat room where he discussed and commented on the images, but did not distribute them.
The court also heard Harris felt a “compulsion” to view the images, but was suitably “disgusted, ashamed and embarrassed” by his behaviour.
Judge Andrew Goymer described Harris’ offending as “an episode by an immature young man satisfying his curiosity.”
Passing sentence, he told Harris: “To many people, it is just an image on a computer screen, but it is real. Every time one of those images is produced, somewhere in this world, a child is being abused or violated in some way.
“The only way the court can attempt to stop this trade is by making people realise they will be punished if they download it.”
He ordered Harris to complete a three-year community order with a supervision requirement and to attend a Thames Valley sex offenders’ programme.
Judge Goymer also imposed a sexual offences prevention order, banning Harris from using a computer without the capability to show the history of websites used and said he must make it available for the police to inspect, should they ask.
Harris will now be prohibited from having unsupervised contact with girls under 16 and his name will be added to the sex offenders’ register for five years.
He was ordered to pay £250 costs and to forfeit his computer hard drive.