Man caught with almost 5,000 child abuse images avoids jail
A 59-year-old man has avoided prison after he was caught with almost 5,000 child abuse images on his computer.
Terence Stroud had 4,829 indecent images of children on a hard drive and a laptop,Teesside Crown Court heard today.
Most of the pictures – including 890 at the most serious level in law – were found on the drive recovered from Stroud’s then home on Warwick Street, Ayresome, Middlesbrough in February 2013.
Officers found 18 more images on the laptop at his mother’s home away from Teesside.
He denied wrongdoing in police interview and maintained his innocence until the eve of a trial, claiming other people must have used his computer.
An expert rejected the convoluted explanations he gave a judge urged him to consider the “overwhelming” evidence.
No trial took place as Stroud admitted two charges of making indecent photographs of children last month.
Nigel Soppitt, defending, said Stroud had taken the “big step” of owning up to his crimes and had “a low likelihood of sexual recidivism”.
Judge Sean Morris said: “He’s made a complete full admission to the probation officer about everything, which in this kind of offender is quite rare.”
Indecent image pervert’s u-turn
A judge said “better late than never” after a man entered eleventh-hour guilty pleas to having indecent photos of children.
Terence Arthur Stroud, 59, finally admitted possession of child abuse images – after the judge indicated he would not go to jail for his crimes.
He had 4,832 illegal images of children on his computer equipment, Teesside Crown Court heard.
Yet until today, he denied wrongdoing in the face of “overwhelming” evidence.
He was to stand trial accused of having the pictures on a computer and a hard drive between 2010 and 2013.
Some of the photos were found at an address in Ayresome, Middlesbrough, the others from a home outside Teesside.
As the potential trial was about to start, Judge Sean Morris asked: “What on earth is his defence?”
Stroud claimed other people must have used his computer between 2008 and 2013, said his barrister Nigel Soppitt.
He added Stroud made assertions in a “convoluted statement” which were not borne out.
An expert said Stroud’s explanations were not correct, yet the defendant still maintained his innocence.
This changed after Judge Morris told him: “I’ve been doing this job for eight years. I’ve been at the Bar for 25 years.
“I know the sight of a man that’s sometimes his worst enemy.
“It may well be you really are your own worst enemy.
“I know these are unpleasant offences but you really ought to consider the evidence against you, and the evidence you haven’t got.
“I’m going to give you another few minutes to have some words with your counsel.
“If at the end of that you insist on a trial, that’s your right. You should think long and hard about it.”
After discussions behind the scenes, Mr Soppitt asked the judge for an indication of the maximum sentence Stroud would receive if he pleaded guilty.
Judge Morris said: “The most important thing I always think in cases of this nature is recognition of what’s happened and what is done.
“That matters. Usually it means you can work with people like that.
“People who are in denial and just brazen it out are the people that worry judges.
“For relatively low-level offending of this nature, which this is, if it’s admitted and there’s contrition, very often a very long community order, a three-year community order, could be on the cards.”
He said Stroud might receive a suspended prison sentence with measures attached to protect the public.
After further discussions, Stroud pleaded guilty to two charges of making indecent photographs of children – his first conviction.
He had the pictures – including 894 at the most serious level in law – on an external hard drive and a laptop recovered from his home and a temporary address on February 21, 2013.
Judge Morris bailed Stroud, of Clarendon Road, Ashford, Middlesex, until sentencing on June 17.
He told the defendant, who is now on the sex offenders’ register: “A little late, but better late than never.
“And believe me, you’ve done the right thing.
“The evidence in this case is quite frankly overwhelming.”
He urged Stroud to cooperate in the preparation of a pre-sentence report, saying: “If I see any whingeing or back-tracking in that report, all bets are off.