June 2016

Vulnerable man disclosed accessing child abuse images to support worker

A vulnerable adult with mental health problems was found with almost 400 child abuse images on his phone after he openly disclosed the information to a support worker.

Paul Sharp told his key worker he had been accessing images on the internet and asked for help to prevent him doing it again.

The 47-year-old started working with a charity called Stop it Now but then admitted he had downloaded more images, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Staff at the supported accommodation where he lived in Westward Ho! called in the police and officers found 395 images and an internet history which showed he had been accessing websites which showed abuse.

Sharp, aged 47, of Bidna Lane, Bideford, admitted six counts of possessing indecent images of children and was jailed for 12 months, suspended for two years, and ordered to undertake 60 days supervision and one to one work with the probation service.

Judge Graham Cottle told him:”In normal circumstances you would go straight inside but the circumstances are not normal because of what I have read in the reports from probation and your mental health social worker.

“I accept you have problems and need to be helped on this occasion to deal with the problems you have disclosed about yourself. However, enough is enough and so there must be a prison sentence, although I shall suspend it.

“You are living in supported accommodation and the serious risk which you might pose needs to be managed.”

Miss Bathsheba Cassel, prosecuting, said Sharp was living in supported accommodation at Westward Ho last year when he told a key worker he had accessed images.

They installed parental controls on his phone and put him in touch with the Stop it Now website but after he repeated his behaviour the police were informed and two phones were seized.

They found visits to websites hosting abuse images in the internet history and 395 images, including some at the most serious category.

Mr Richard Crabb, defending, said Sharp had reported himself and sought help for his problems. he said his vulnerability and mental health issues mean he would be at risk of bullying.

He said Sharp no longer has access to a phone or the internet and staff at his supported accommodation are keeping a very close eye on him.

May 2016

Bideford man admits child abuse images offences

A BIDEFORD man who was found with numerous indecent images of children as young as five appeared in court on Friday.

Paul David Sharp, 47, of Bidna Lane, Bideford, pleaded guilty to six charges of possessing indecent photographs/pseudo photographs, of a child.

Lyndsey Baker for the prosecution said Sharp had been in possession of a “large amount” of category A and category B images and that this behaviour had taken place over four years.

She said Sharp “accepted in interview it had been going on for a long time.”

Mrs Baker said some of the children in the images were as young as five years-old, which was why she advised magistrates to commit the case to Crown Court.

Tony Dart, for the defence agreed with this assessment, adding he thought the seriousness of the case meant magistrates did not have sufficient power to pass sentence.

The defendant was ordered to attend Crown Court in Exeter at 10am on June 20 for sentencing.

He was granted bail on the condition he did not use the internet unsupervised or have contact with anyone under the age of 18.