May 2023

Kendal sex offender jailed for downloading ‘horrendous’ abuse images

A repeat sex offender from Kendal downloaded dozens of sickening child abuse images, including ones featuring victims as young as three.

Kendal man Robert Lewthwaite, 29, who committed the offences despite having the benefit of professional help through the Probation Service, was jailed after a judge ruled that he poses a continuing risk to children.

He admitted breaching a sexual harm prevention order and downloading almost 300 indecent images of children, including 58 which were classified as Category A, the most serious kind of abuse images.

At Carlisle Crown Court, Judge Nicholas Barker told the defendant: “These are not victimless crimes: these images depict real children, as young as three or four and five or six, who were subjected to the most horrendous, gratuitous sexual abuse.”

The demand for such images by people like Lewthwaite supported the activities of the abusers who created those images.

Prosecutor Brendan Burke said the background was that Lewthwaite was given a seven-year sexual harm prevention order in February 2019, which was designed to curb his internet use and prevent reoffending.

It was part of his sentence for similar offending, when he downloaded hundreds of child abuse images, the court heard. Lewthwaite was specifically warned not to use cloud storage facilities, said Mr Burke.

But on January 14 police visited the defendant and discovered that he had done this, accessing three cloud storage sites. There was evidence that he had deleted content from his internet history and devices.

Police eventually recovered the images he had been viewing:  58 of Category A, 96 of Category B, and 128 of Category C.

Jailing Lewthwaite for 18 months, Judge Barker concluded that the defendant had returned to his former offending behaviour, which probation staff had described as being “a highly established pattern of offending.”

The judge said there was a pattern of offending, and he was not satisfied that at present there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.

Lewthwaite will be on the Sex Offender Register for a decade and his sexual harm prevention order will last for the same period.