Paedophile caught with 15,000 indecent images of children spared jail

A paedophile who said he “didn’t realise it was illegal” to have thousands of indecent images of children has been spared jail. Tony Collins was caught with more than 15,000 indecent photographs of children, some as young as five, as well as female underwear.

At Liverpool Crown Court yesterday, prosecutor Sarah Holt said that upon examination of the electronic devices thousands of indecent images were found.

There were two Category A images – the most severe – including images of a 13-year-old girl.

Around 138 Category B images were found as well as 15,248 Category C images, involving children aged between eight and nine. Some of which included a child within the age range of five and seven.

The viewing and downloading of these images spanned across four years, from 2017 to 2021.

Ms Holt added some images were also found in the recycling bin of the devices.

She told the court that the police search of his address happened on May 20, 2021.

After the search Collins was interviewed by police and he told them he had learning difficulties and “didn’t realise it was illegal to look at those photos”.

She went on to say Collins claimed he “didn’t look for images of children and wasn’t sexually attracted to children”.

Liverpool Echo reports that the court heard how there was a maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment, but Mr Recorder Harris said he took into account the lack of previous convictions and “personal characteristics”.

He said: “It’s important to note viewing and downloading of images, you are perpetuating a wicked and repellent market for the the exploitation of children, some are very young.

“The corrosive effects and psychological harm caused to children who are forced to pose for these photographs is incalculable.”

Recorder Harris added that Collins had previously pleaded guilty for the making of indecent photographs as well as possession of indecent images and prohibited photographs of children, which was taken into account when sentencing.

The court also heard how Collins was assessed as being a “medium risk of harm to children”.

Recorder Harris said Collins denied “any form of sexual gratification” and was “unable to understand or articulate” motives for the offending behaviour.

The court heard Collins had learning difficulties and “struggled to read and write”.

Recorder Harris said the offences were “serious enough to warrant punishment by immediate imprisonment” but that Collins, who had had an “unsettled background”, had a “realistic prospect of rehabilitation.”

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Collins, from St Helens, Merseyside, was given a “direct alternative” with concurrent community orders for three years, with a rehabilitation requirement of 30 days.

He will need to complete one-to-one work with a probation officer to “educate and prevent” further offending as well as working with the police sexual offences unit.

Recorder Harris said failure to comply would lead to Collins reappearing before the court.

Collins was also ordered to be on the sex offenders register for five years and a sexual harm prevention order was also made.

He was also ordered to pay £750 costs within 12 months and a statutory surcharge.

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