September 2013

Consett man with previous sex offending convictions jailed over indecent images of children

A COLLECTION of indecent material featuring children was found on a police visit to the home of man with a “sorry history” of sex offending.

Most of the 139 offending images were on a lap-top computer recovered from the boot of Michael Croney’s car, but some were on a mobile phone found in a bedroom.

Durham Crown Court heard that a file share facility was available on the computer, making 91 of the images available for distribution, although there was no evidence anyone else accessed them.

Martin Towers, prosecuting, said Croney made admissions over the recovered images, although he claimed to be unaware of the computer’s file share capacity.

But Mr Towers said a warning flash came up on screen indicating to users that there was a file sharing capability.

Croney, 46, of Denesyde, Consett, admitted 16 counts of making, one of possession and five of distribution of indecent images of children, plus a single charge of possessing extreme pornography, featuring scenes of bestiality.

The court heard his 23 previous convictions include several for indecent exposure and gross indecency with children, for which Croney was jailed for two-and-a-half years and placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life, in 2002.

Mr Towers said it featured him exposing himself to schoolgirls at bus stops, at times performing a sex act on himself.

Nigel Adkin, mitigating, told the court that Croney claimed he had downloaded the offending images on his lap-top between July and December 2010, and had not used it since January 2011.

But he accepted seven other images were on the phone Croney was using at the time of the police raid, on February 1 this year.

“This is an inevitable custodial case. He has an unfortunate background.

“Those past offences, perhaps, look worse than they are.

“Mostly they were for exposure, but, nevertheless, it’s a troubling background.”

Mr Adkin added that the admissions to distribution were on the basis it was “notional distribution”.

“It covers possession of material whereby other people can access it.

“There’s no evidence, whatsoever, of actual distribution.”

Jailing him for 21 months, Recorder Ian Atherton told Croney: “You have a sorry history of exposing yourself to children.

“You need help and punishment and the public deserve to be protected from you.”

Recorder Atherton also agreed to impose a life-long sexual offences prevention order restricting Croney’s access to the internet and preventing him having unsupervised contact with children.

September 2002

Paedophile struck as soon as he was freed

A NORTH-EAST paedophile exposed himself to a terrified young girl just days after he was freed by the court of appeal.

Michael Croney had his four-year jail term cut to a three-year community rehabilitation order, despite warnings that he posed a high risk to children.

Then, just three days later he exposed himself to a 12-year-old girl who was waiting at a bus stop in Gateshead with her 13-year-old friend.

The youngster ran to a nearby friend’s home and the father of the household was able to note Croney’s car registration number after seeing him disappear into an alleyway.

He was arrested but denied the offence.

The youngster had to pick him out of an identity parade and give evidence against him in court before he finally pleaded guilty to indecency towards a child.

Yesterday Croney, of Deneside, Medomsley, Consett, County Durham, was given a four-year jail sentence at Newcastle Crown Court.

Judge Richard Lowden said the Court of Appeal had been wrong to revoke the four-year term the 35-year-old received after exposing himself to youngsters in Guildford, Surrey.

Judge Lowden said he was confident that if Croney received a short sentence he would “no doubt commit the same offences immediately again”.

He was sentenced at the Old Bailey on September 28 last year after pleading guilty to five charges of indecency towards children, one of indecent exposure and one of threatening or insulting behaviour.

He was freed in February following an appeal.

Law lords decided the sentence was excessive in the light of his admissions to the police.

A public protection unit report had said that although Croney posed a “high risk of re-offending in a similar way” and was a “high risk of harm to the public”, probation officers were confident that he could be “safely managed”.

But Judge Lowden told him: “Sadly, that did not prove to be so. “In the light of your re-offending, there can be no question of going down that sort of course again.”

Croney, who has been married twice and has a girlfriend, will be registered as a sex offender for life.