Child images man avoids jail term

A man who had over 1,000 images of child sex abuse has avoided jail so he does not come under the influence of more dangerous sex offenders.

The judge said three years of intense probation supervision and work would ultimately best serve and safeguard both him and society.

The man, 23, from Carrickfergus, admitted 23 charges of downloading the images. He also pleaded guilty to one of distributing some of them. He was put on the Sex Offenders’ Register and made subject to a five-year Sex Offenders Prevention Order.

Belfast Crown Court heard that following a police search of his home in November 2013, he admitted looking for the images and sharing them with others on an internet chat site.

A defence lawyer said while remorseful he knew it was both wrong and illegal, he went looking for more images after they were “burnt into his brain” after he initially “stumbled” upon them on the internet.

The judge said that downloading images of child sex abuse was not a victimless crime, and while the children were unknown to the man and police, they were individuals subjected to the most appalling abuse and lives of physical degradation.

“These are not just pictures, they are actual people,” he added.

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