April 2012

Man ‘obsessed’ with child abuse images spared prison

A YOUNG man with a penchant for child pornography has been spared prison so he can receive treatment to address his “obsession”.

Police computer experts found 1,987 indecent images of children, 97 of them moving images, on Andrew Edward Hall’s laptop and memory stick seized from his parents’ home in Seaham, east Durham, after information was received as part of a wider operation in April last year.

Durham Crown Court heard Hall had moved to a flat in Sunderland three weeks earlier, but his laptop was still at his former home.

Christopher Williamson, prosecuting, said that when arrested Hall told police: “I’ve been downloading. I have an addiction to downloading. I download anything.”

He told officers he chatted to older men on line posing as a girl, and made up stories of sexual offences involving children.

Hall added that he was disgusted with himself and conceded that he “became a different person” on computer.

Mr Williamson said 174 of the images were considered to be in the two most serious categories involving children, featuring youngsters aged three to ten.

Peter Schofield, mitigating, said: “It’s a course of behaviour that will clearly concern the court, but there has been an honesty in how he got into this predicament.

“He is now living back home and these matters stem back over a year.

“There’s a noteable stress on his face. He has learnt a salutary lesson.

“Through casual chatter with individuals he has been drawn into retaining a quantity of this material, having not viewed all of it, only some of it.

“He is thoroughly ashamed at what took place.”

Hall, 24, of Haverley Drive, Seaham, admitted 16 counts of making an indecent image of a child and one of possession.

Recorder Graham Hyland said something needed to be done “to rid him of this obsession”.

He imposed a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 24 months’ probation supervision.

Judge Hyland also made Hall the subject of an unlimited sexual offences prevention order, restricting his future use of computers and the internet, and ordered confiscation of his computer equipment.

Hall must also sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for ten years.