December 2021

Paedophile says only ‘living in a cave with no electricity’ would stop him downloading indecent images of children

A paedophile with a long history of sexual convictions told a court that only ‘living in a cave with no electricity’ would stop him downloading indecent images of children

Edward Thornton, 33, has twice previously been caught by police with sickening stashes of indecent images.

He was found last year to have amassed more than 14,000 ‘revolting files’, some involving the rape of babies and torture of toddlers, and has now been jailed again.

Thornton, at Liverpool Crown Court, pleaded guilty to six counts of downloading, two counts of distributing and one count of possessing indecent images of children.

He also pleaded guilty to four counts of breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order, possessing prohibited images of children and extreme porn.

A judge jailed him for five years

Bernice Campbell, defending, told a judge Thornton was ‘addicted’.

She said: “When asked how he would stop he said very candidly, ‘in a cave with no electricity’.

Thornton, of Meadowfield Close, Rock Ferry, Wirral, was first sentenced over indecent photos of children in December 2008, when he was handed 11 months in prison, suspended for two years.

In July 2014, for possessing and sharing child sex abuse images and 11 breaches of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SHPO), he was jailed for three years.

He was given an updated Sexual Harm Prevention Order, but within months of being released from jail in 2016, started hoarding sick files again.

Liverpool Crown Court heard police went to Thornton’s home on May 11, 2020, and asked him to present any phones or computers for inspection.

Christopher Taylor, prosecuting, said Thornton handed over a Nokia without internet access and said it was all he had.

But a detective told him information suggested he’d posted an indecent photo on the app Kik Messenger.

The “tearful” pervert confessed and went to a cupboard and produced two mobile phones, a computer tower and a wireless router.

Mr Taylor said on a Huawei phone and the computer there were “at least 14,266 illegal files”, downloaded between October 15, 2016 and May 4, 2020.

In total there were 3,766 Category A – the most serious category showing child rape – 2,770 Category B and 7,605 Category C images.

This included 1,100 child rape videos, featuring children as young as babies.

Thornton had a further 90 prohibited (cartoon) images of children and 35 extreme porn files, showing animal abuse.

Mr Taylor gave a description of a selection of the images, some of which had been sourced from Russia.

Mr Taylor said in total there were actually 38,000 images, but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had not asked for the remaining files to be examined or categorised because it was agreed it was “unnecessary to expose the examiners” to further analysis.

The judge, Recorder Eric Lamb, said: “Anybody being exposed to these images could not fail to be affected by them.”

On his Huawei phone, Thornton had the Wickr Me encrypted chat service and had used it to share a child rape video.

Thornton made full admissions when interviewed and was released under investigation while his phone was analysed.

SnapChat contacted police this year to tell them an account linked to Thornton had uploaded a Category B file in March 2021.

Police raided his home on August 11 and seized a mobile phone hidden under a sofa, a laptop and three USB devices.

He had kept these from his sex offender manager and again made full admissions when interviewed, before six Category A, B and C files were found.

He again made full admissions when interviewed.

Recorder Lamb said Thornton was “an intelligent man” who had “deliberately and cunningly” breached his SHPO by downloading images of children being abused around the world, to which he said he was “addicted”.

He told him that no one hearing “even the sanitised” description provided in court “could fail to be revolted by the sort of images that you have been seeking out”.

The judge added Thornton would have to sign on the Sex Offenders Register and comply with his SHPO indefinitely.