Jan 2008

Child porn man avoids jail term

A RESTAURANT manager in possession of more than 1,100 indecent images of children has avoided jail.

Father-of-one Samuel Bennett, 28, of St Helen’s Road, Westcliff, had the 1,131 pornographic images stored on a memory stick and would view them while at work at a family restaurant in Southend.

The court was told the restaurant’s management called police after a footprint of the images – of children believed to be as young as ten – was left stored on the computer and a member of staff found them.

Forty-six of the photographs were deemed to be at level four, with level five being the worst.

However, when Bennett appeared at Basildon Crown Court yesterday he escaped a prison sentence.

Instead he was given a community order, including supervision for three years.

Bennett admitted looking at the images, during an internal investigation by his employers.

He was arrested in February 2007 and pleaded guilty at a previous court hearing to nine counts of possessing indecent child images.

Investigations found the images had been accumulated over two years, with a brief lull in accessing pictures from the internet while his partner was pregnant.

Since his arrest, he has only been allowed contact with his two-year-old daughter with adult supervision.

Judge Michael Brooke told Bennett: “You were just a sad man succumbing to his perversion.”

The judge said Bennett had shown remorse and repulsion at what he had done.

He had lost his job and, subsequently, the flat he lived in with his partner and child.

Judge Brooke said he didn’t feel a custodial sentence would benefit Bennett’s rehabilitation.

He said: “That’s why I’m taking what may be taken as unusual and lenient action, and sentence you to a community order with supervision.”

Bennett must also complete an internet sex offenders’ programme.

He is banned from using a computer to access any form of pornographic material and must remain on the sex offenders’ register for five years.