May 2022

County Durham man Stuart Nichol sentenced after sickening downloads

A pervert suffered a fall from grace after police seized computer equipment and found it contained indecent images of children.

Durham Crown Court was told a search warrant was executed at Stuart Nichol’s home, in Castle Eden, in which officers removed electrical devices, including a laptop computer, on September 28, 2020.

He was interviewed and admitted possessing indecent images, stating he had been downloading them for several years, but he claimed he had no sexual interest in children

Examination of the devices confirmed the presence of 106 offending images, 39 in the most serious category, all but seven of which were videos.

Victoria Lamballe, prosecuting, said they featured children as young as three being abused, including one near nine-minute video of a five-year-old girl being raped by an adult.

Miss Lamballe said cleaning software had been installed and used several times in the period leading up to the defendant’s arrest.

When re-interviewed, he again accepted downloading the images, but claimed he was gathering them in a folder with a view to reporting it to police, again claiming he had no sexual interest in children.

Appearing at a plea hearing at the court, however, the 63-year-old defendant, of North View, admitted three counts of making (downloading) indecent images of children, between January and August, 2020.

Judge James Adkin said those who view such, “repellent material” only help to provide a market for more to be produced and made “readily accessible” on the internet.

But he said he was satisfied that Nichol does not pose a risk to the public and he can work to address his behaviour with the Probation Service.

He imposed a ten-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, during which the defendant must complete 40 rehabilitation activity days with the Probation Service and undergo 180 hours’ unpaid work.

Nichol was made subject of registration as a sex offender and restrictions over his future internet use, under the terms of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, both for ten years.

Judge Adkin, who also made a forfeiture and destruction order for the seized material, warned the defendant that if he fails to comply with the terms of sentence and court orders, “you would put yourself in peril.”