March 2010

Newport man had 400 child porn images – court hears

A MAN was jailed for six-and-a-half-months yesterday after admitting possessing more than 400 indecent images of children.

Salvatore Meringolo, 50, of Ailesbury Street, Shaftesbury, appeared in Newport Crown Court for sentencing having previously pleaded guilty to 16 counts of making indecent images, one count of possessing indecent images and one count of possessing extreme pornographic images.

Prosecutor John Probert said police raided Meringolo’s address on March 26 last year, acting on information from the Child Exploitation Online Protection (CEOP) centre.

The court heard officers recovered three laptops and a total of 427 indecent images of children and 731 extreme pornographic images were found on two of them.

Mr Probert said officers found six level five images, the worst category of images, 94 level four images, 66 level three, 25 level two and 236 level one images, but said some of the images were duplicates.

Meringolo told officers one was a work laptop and the other two were his “porn” computers.

Mr Probert said Meringolo admitted having an interest in adult pornography and said occasionally child images would “pop up.”

The court heard Meringolo used search engines to find images, using terms including ‘lolita,’ ‘under age,’ and ‘school girl.’

Representing Meringolo, Gareth Williams said Meringolo’s interest in adult pornography had become unhealthy and grown to a “curiosity” in child pornography.

He said the defendant acknowledged that the real victims of the crime were the children in the images and felt shame and remorse not only for his actions, but for the impact they had on his family.

Judge Paul Thomas sentenced Meringolo to 26-weeks in prison and also made him the subject of a seven-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order banning him from having unsupervised contact with children, from using the internet for purposes other than work, study or seeking employment and from possessing a computer, mobile phone or handheld device with internet access.

He was also disqualified from working with children indefinitely and ordered to register as a sex offender for seven years.