March 2021

‘Depraved’ Rothwell paedophile searched dark web for sadistic images of babies

A “depraved” paedophile downloaded disturbing images of babies being abused just three weeks after signing the sex offender register

Andrew Smith was jailed for three years after a court heard how continued to access sickening images from his home in Leeds despite twice being arrested and warned about his behaviour as he awaited sentence.

Leeds Crown Court heard Smith sent illegal child images to a paedophile in the Philippines.

The 36-year-old also engaged in online conversations with other offenders describing how he was going to gain qualifications to allow him to work with children.

Jeremy Barton, prosecuting, said police officers first went to Smith’s home in May 2019 after receiving information that three Tumblr accounts linked to the defendant had been used to access illegal child images.

While waiting for the results of an investigation into the accounts police received further information about illegal activity on an social media account linked to Smith.

Officers returned to his home in June 2020 and seized electronic devices.

An investigation revealed he had accessed illegal images of children.

He had also made internet search terms including: “I am attracted to children.”

The was evidence that he had accessed the dark web and engaged in online conversations with other paedophiles dating back to 2011.

Smith was interviewed and accepted that the devices were his and that he was responsible for the images recovered but refused to comment further.

Smith was placed on the sex offender on October 8 last year and ordered to abide by a number of requirements while awaiting sentence.

On October 24 two public protection officers went to his home to check that he was complying with the orders.

Smith was asked to hand over his mobile phone.

The device contained images of very young children in a state of undress.

Smith then the told officers about another mobile device in his bedroom and gave them the password for it.

The device contained over 1,500 illegal images.

A total of 175 still and moving images were at category A – the most serious level of offending.

They included sadistic images of babies who were in distress.

There was also evidence that he had sent images to someone in the Philippines.

Smith, of Stone Brig Green, Rothwell, pleaded guilty to nine counts of making indecent images of children, possession of a prohibited image of a child, possessing prohibited images, possessing an extreme pronographic image and distributing indecent images of children.

Sentencing, Judge Robin Mairs told Smith the images he had downloaded were “of the most grave and damaging kind.”

He said: “You had conversations with other paedophiles. You used the dark web to search material.

“There wasn’t contact with children but you admitted that you were studying to qualify to work with children

“The reasonable fear must be that you were taking steps to take viewing offences into actual contact offences.”

Describing the images accessed by Smith, Judge Mairs said: “It is clear from some of the images that the children were in distress.

“Their fear and pain is evident.

“These are not victimless offences.

“Behind these images there are real children.

“Real children who suffer abuse, who suffer pain, and the reason that happens is to satisfy the depraved demands of people like you.”