May 2023

Former Workington student shared child abuse images with online pals

A former student from west Cumbria downloaded and distributed “vile” child abuse and toddler rape images to other paedophiles online during the Covid lockdown has avoided a prison sentence

Some of the victims depicted in the 71 indecent images downloaded and shared  by 23-year-old Workington man Kristian Craig over five days were just four years old, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

The defendant, of John Street, Workington, admitted three counts of downloading indecent child images – including 18 of the most serious Category A; and three counts of distributing some of the images to “like minded” individuals.

All the offences were committed in 2020

Prosecutor Brendan Burke told the court. One of the most serious images was part of a video showing the abuse of a four-year-old.

Judge Nicholas Barker pointed out that the starting sentence for distributing such images was usually three years jail.

He told Craig: “It’s properly judged to be serious because those who traffik in this vile material, sending it to others create a demand…and by doing so cause risk that children, wherever they may be, will be abused in the most vile, disgusting, degrading and damaging way, as evidenced by some of the material which you had on your computer.

The judge said mitigating factors outweighed aggravating ones, noting that Craig was 19 or 20 when the offending happened.

Judge Barker said there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation and thus he imposed an 18-month jail term, suspended for two years.

The sentence includes 15 rehabilitation activity days and a sex offender treatment programme and 180 hours of unpaid work.

Craig will be on the Sex Offender Register for a decade. Such rehabilitatin focused sentences aim to protect society by preventing a repeat of similar offending in the future.