Sept 2005

Snodland man addicted to child porn is jailed

A 40-year-old man with a sickening addiction to child porn has been jailed for 15 months after a judge told him: “This is the highly unacceptable face of modern technology.”

Roland Symmons is likely to be free in just over three months because of time spent in custody, but a period of extended supervision was ordered in an attempt to prevent further offending.

The father-of-two, of Willowside, Snodland, near Rochester, admitted seven charges of possessing indecent photographs of a child and three of distributing indecent photographs.

Maidstone Crown Court heard that he was jailed for four months in June 1998 for committing similar offences of possessing indecent images of children.

In August 2001, he was sent to prison for eight months for outraging public decency in front of his four-year-old son at a “dogging” lay-by off the A249 at Detling, near Maidstone.

Caroline Knight, prosecuting, said the latest offences were discovered as a result of a police operation in the United States.

Symmons received an indecent image of a child by email and an investigation was launched.

Miss Knight said the child porn was found on a computer Symmons used at his wife’s home. He no longer lived there but was a frequent visitor.

When examined, the computer was found to have a large number of “chat logs”, which indicated he was seeking out people to swap indecent pictures of children.

Dartford-born Symmons had sent six such pictures to unknown people by email. Video clips of abuse were found on the computer’s hard drive, while 80 images had been deleted.

Miss Knight said Symmons was at first evasive but then made full admissions.

James Ross, defending, said right-thinking people would be shocked and disgusted if they viewed just one of the pictures.

“In this case, we have 10 to deal with,” he said. “This perpetuates abuse against children. The internet has brought out the dark side in human nature.

“He has lost his family. His mother attends court. She is very concerned about her son. She wants him to be treated.”

Mr Ross said Symmons, who had been in custody for almost four months, was “an occasional player” and had not accumulated a large number of images.

Only one of the images on his computer was at the highest level of five, he said.

But Judge Philip Statman pointed out that is was of a child who was gagged and subjected to sexual depravity.

“He says he needs help,” said Mr Ross. “In 1998, he obviously wasn’t cured. Probation say a community rehabilitation order for three years would be necessary to cure him of his problems.

“There is no indication that any time in custody has done anything to cure him. This is an offence better prevented by changing the mind-set of a person.”

Mr Ross added: “This has cost Mr Symmons dearly. He has suffered grievously as a result of his actions. He himself has been asking for treatment. He did a terrible thing. He knows he must be punished. He asks also that he be treated.”

Judge Statman ordered that at the end of the sentence there should be supervision for a further 15 months.

Symmons was also placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years and banned from owning a computer and working with or being in the presence of children under 16 without a parent present.