August 2022

Clacton dad avoids prison for sharing child abuse images

A father who shared images depicting the sexual abuse of children online told police he didn’t know the pictures were illegal.

Gary Headech, 41, was arrested and his phone was seized in a police raid on his home after intelligence received over his internet usage.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard officers found indecent images of children on his phone, with 134 at the most serious Category A.

Also found were 144 images at Category B and 257 at Category C.

In police interview, Headech, of Albany Chase, Holland-on-Sea, went on to confess his use of an “app or website” to share images of child abuse with others.

He was found to have distributed 30 images at Category A, 27 at Category B and 466 at Category C.

Headech, who was unrepresented in court, told Judge Timothy Walker he “held his hands up” to his offending.

He admitted three counts of making indecent images of children, three counts of distributing indecent images of children and one count of possessing prohibited images of a child.

Judge Walker said: “You indicated you started communicating with others on the app or website called ‘Randochat’, you received images of adults and you forwarded those to others.

“You said it had escalated to containing images of children and, in your phrase, it ‘got out of control’

“You admitted to distributing such images and you said you didn’t realise until police arrested you how serious it was.

“You denied you obtained any sexual gratification from viewing those images.”

The judge said Headech explained he had been working different hours to his partner after moving to a new area, finding the app was the “only place he could converse with others”.

Judge Walker added: “You said you didn’t know the images were illegal.”

In Headech’s favour, Judge Walker said the offender had already taken steps to address his offending and had voluntarily given up using the internet.

He told the author of a pre-sentence report he had paid to go on a course to rehabilitate himself. 

But the judge said it is “inconceivable” that Headech did not know he was sharing images depicting real children being abused. 

“Quite rightly, these are treated as very serious offences,” he said. 

Headech was sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years.

He must complete 100 hours of unpaid work, a 40-day rehabilitation activity requirement and a 12-session treatment requirement.

He will remain on the sex offender’s register for ten years and is the subject of a sexual harm prevention order monitoring his use of devices capable of accessing the internet.