June 2009

North Devon man admits child porn charges

A North Devon graphic designer scoured the internet for child pornography and made secret films for his own sexual gratification, a court has heard.

Exeter Crown Court was told that 31-year-old Lee Cooke, of The Copse, Roundswell, Barnstaple, was caught after a website owner reported that his site had been hijacked by child porn distributors.

The subsequent police investigation enabled them to track down Cooke and armed with a search warrant they raided his Barnstaple home, the court was told.

Cooke’s computers, hard drives and video tapes were seized and when they were forensically examined were found to contain more than 100 still images and movie clips.

Some of the films were taken with secret cameras which Cooke had set up in the bathroom and from the window of his home.

When Cooke was interviewed he made full and frank admissions and prosecutor Emily Pitts said the defendant admitted he had done it for his own sexual gratification and without the knowledge of the voyeurism victims.

Mitigating, David Sapiecha said reports showed that work could be done with Cooke to enable him to deal with his problems to become a more useful member of society.

Cooke pleaded guilty to ten counts relating to child pornography and was given a four-month prison sentence suspended for two years. This was coupled with a supervision order for two years, and a condition that he attend the sex offender group programme.

He was further made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order which bans him from downloading child images from the internet, contacting children under 16 without their being supervised by an adult who knows of his convictions, and he cannot stop police entering his home at certain hours to check his computer use.

Cooke was told to sign on the Sex Offenders’ Register for seven years.

Passing sentence, Judge Philip Wassall told Cooke: “Although there are a relatively small number of images, 41 of them show particularly serious abuse of children.

“The pre-sentence report indicates there is work that can be done to deal with your sexual distortions and this is your first time before the court.”