A LONER who amassed a collection of sickening child pornography has walked free – because it took so long for his case to reach court.
Gavin Adams was arrested more than two years ago, but the investigation is said to have been the most complicated in Durham Police history.
A week ago, a judge said Adams was likely to be spared jail, and asked for an explanation about how he had not been dealt with before now.
The 34-year-old has since been given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to undertake a sex offenders’ treatment programme.
Judge Peter Bowers told him: “The only reason I can suspend this sentence is partly because of your plea and partly because of the delay.
“I always find it rather disturbing to send someone immediately to prison for something that happened so long ago.”
Paul Newcombe, prosecuting, told the judge the investigation also involved Cleveland Police and experts from a southern force.
The court heard that Adams had used specialist deleting software to try to hide both images and the source of those images.
Mr Newcombe said: “The most likely origin is the internet, but because of the filewiping software, it is not possible to say for sure.
“In interview, he denied the offences. He suggested he had housemates and that it could be their activity that led to them being on the computer.”
Police swooped on Adams’ home, in Lewes Road, Darlington, in 2007 as part of an operation codenamed Rotunda.
The images were found in four locations – on Adams’ computer, in a briefcase, on a zip-disc and a CD in a chest of drawers.
The court heard that Adams was adept with computers and spent much of his time on his own, looking at pornography.
Peter Sabiston, mitigating, said his client’s obsession started with Oriental girls who looked younger than they actually were.
Mr Sabiston described Adams, now of Union Street, Middlesbrough, as “a very isolated man who does not easily form friendships or relationships”.
Adams admitted making and possessing 1,346 indecent images and was given a 30- week prison sentence, suspended for two years.
He was also put on the sex offenders’ register for seven years and made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for six years. The order bans him from owning a computer or any device such as a mobile phone which allows access to the internet.