November 2009

Man with 44,000 child porn images avoids prison

A HIGH Wycombe man found with 44,000 indecent images of children on his computer has today been spared a prison sentence.

Stephen Croft tried to groom young girls on internet chatrooms and gave out his home address in order for them to post their underwear to him, Aylesbury Crown Court heard.

The offences against 49-year-old Croft, of Cullyn Road, went “beyond simple possession” and were carried out over the course of four years.

More than 900 indecent videos were also found on his computer.

Judge Christopher Tyrer told Croft sending him to jail would be “inadequate in terms of getting you proper, professional help to face up to the reality of what you have been doing and why you have been doing it”.

Croft had admitted 12 charges of making indecent images, four of possessing to show or distribute indecent images and three of showing indecent images at an earlier hearing.

He was given concurrent community orders lasting three years, a three-year supervision order and was disqualified from working with children.

Croft will also be on the Sex Offenders’ Register for five years and was made the subject of a five year Sexual Offences Prevention Order, which forbids him owning computer software that destroys internet history and having direct contact with people under the age of 18.

Judge Tyrer said the maximum term for the offences Croft had admitted was ten years behind bars.

Passing sentence, Judge Tyrer said: “Many of the cases I see are of men who simply download pictures from a variety of sources and are in possession of them for their own sexual gratification.

“You were dealing with them by talking to people and trying to get young girls to send you their undergarments. That is beyond the range of simple possession.

“A considerable amount of material that was found was well beyond merely downloading and looking at pictures. There were 44,000 still images and 912 video files and there appears to have been direct contact with actual people.

“You were trying to groom young people by providing your address to get them to send you their undergarments.

“The effect on you is you have yet to admit to yourself you did this for your own sexual gratification and the sooner you face up to that obvious fact, the better.”

The judge added: “Every single image represents a child being abused. The abuse depicted is perhaps a mere fraction of the abuse that child has suffered.”

Croft did not have a barrister to represent him during today’s hearing.

Addressing the judge, Croft said: “I can only apologise for my actions. It will never happen again.”

Asked why he had carried out the offences, Croft said: “Just through being stupid.”