Man spared jail over huge haul of child porn

A MAN convicted of building up a massive collection of more than 300,000 indecent images of children has been given a suspended sentence and ordered to attend a sex offender programme.

A judge told Michael Raybould at Leeds Crown Court yesterday he hoped addressing the effect of such internet offending would prevent him acting in a similar way in the future.

The court heard police found the images, some involving girls as young as eight, after seizing computer equipment and DVDs during a raid at Raybould’s home in Kirkheaton, Huddersfield in June 2009.

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Carmel Pearson, prosecuting, said examination showed Raybould not only had two hard drives containing images in thumbnail format but also had them stored on memory sticks.

He had also installed a facility which meant he could view the images he had downloaded from his computer on his television set.

Miss Pearson told the court in total 315,531 images were found of which the vast majority 313,961 were at level one, the lowest category of seriousness in a rating of one to five.

There were 1,448 at level two, 81 at level three, 23 at level four and 18 at level five.

She said of the 20 sample charges involving individual images before the court seven related to girls aged 8-10, nine to girls aged 9-11, and four showed girls aged 12-14.

An unusual and aggravating feature in Raybould’s case was that he had made a collage in one instance doctoring images of one girl by superimposing a photograph of himself naked beside the child involved.

When he was interviewed he initially tried to blame someone else saying they had access to his computer at his home, but eventually agreed he was responsible.

He expressed remorse but continued to deny he gained sexual gratification from the images which the judge suggested might indicate he was “in denial” at the time.

Miss Pearson said there was no suggestion Raybould had distributed the images to others.

Raybould, 58 of St Peter’s Crescent, Kirkheaton, admitted a total of 21 charges of making indecent images, 20 involving individual images and a roll up charge covering the rest of the still and moving images.

He was given 26 weeks in prison suspended for two years with supervision and a condition of attending an accredited sex offender programme. He must also sign the sex offender register.

Mr Justice Butterfield said whether Raybould liked to admit it or not it was a “sad and pathetic case” where for sexual gratification he had been “gawping at images of little girls”.

He told Raybould he probably expected and could not complain if he was jailed immediately for “systematically storing” so many images but under the guidelines because the majority were level one offences he would serve only about 10 weeks before being released without having addressed his offending.

But the judge said he considered it would better serve the interests of society in the long run if he came to recognise “the terrible harm done to these children, somewhere on this earth these children have been made to perform these acts for the gratification of men like him”.

Freddy Apfel for Raybould said as with many people involved in such offences his browsing had begun out of boredom.

After long hours at work with nothing to do in the evening he began surfing the internet and the situation escalated because he was a “great hoarder”.

He accepted he had downloaded a vast number of images but the overwhelming majority were at the lowest level.

“There is also no suggestion he was distributing or selling them on,” said Mr Apfel.

He said that Raybould had expressed remorse early on telling police officers: “It’s terrible” and “it’s sick”.