June 2016

Paedophile who Googled child beheading videos spared jail


An unemployed paedophile who scoured the web for videos of children being beheaded and asked chat room users for sexual abuse videos has been spared jail.

Nathan Smith’s internet activity was first spotted by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP), part of the National Crime Agency.

They discovered messages posted on a chat room asking someone in the USA for videos of children engaging in sexual intercourse.

The 30-year-old of Station Road in Wickham Bishops, pleaded guilty to three counts of possessing indecent images of children on May 4, and today (June 10) Chelmsford Crown Court heard how Smith had also used search engines to look for videos of children being beheaded.

Prosecuting, Shauna Ritchie said: “The offences relate to information received by Essex Police from CEOP on April 27 of last year, in relation to an email address which started a conversation with a chatroom user from the USA.

“Discussions involved sexual intercourse with minors and mention was made by the defendant to wishing he knew how to get videos of children having sex.

“There was a comment from Mr Smith asking the American user if he could send him copies of any videos he had.

“A check on the email address showed it was registered to Mr Smith and provided an address.”

On August 6 of last year, a warrant was executed by officers from Essex Police, during which a number of Smith’s electronic devices were seized from his bedroom.

During investigations of the objects, police were also able to access his internet search history and among a number of searches for children engaging in sexual activity with adults, a search was found looking for videos of children being beheaded.

An initial interview yielded few results, with Smith answering “no comment” to all of the police questioning.

A follow-up interview followed in February of this year, during which he was asked to give an account of how the images ended up on his devices, an Acer laptop and a Zoostorm computer.

He said: “Most of the stuff, I have no idea how it got there. The only photos I have are ones that I took, but I have loads of viruses.”

Ms Ritchie added: “He confirmed that he lived at his home with his parents, neither of whom used the internet or owned any kind of computer equipment.

“When he was asked about the search terms, he answered ‘no comment’, but suggested that some of the searches were pure fantasy and he had looked only out of curiosity and not sexual motivation.”

In total, 31 images were discovered in Smith’s possession, including 14 of the more serious category B nature.

Representing the former warehouse worker, Harry Warner added: “It is fair to say that he is a man who is struggling to come to terms with the seriousness of his offences.”

Presiding over the hearing, Judge Christopher Ball QC took into account Smith’s previous good character and lack of convictions in his decision to spare him prison time.

He did however, say: “The reality is that at 12 or 13, children are becoming interested in sex, so they are soft targets to be used and abused by adults to provide titillation.

“People like you that use the internet to access pornographic matter involving young children are not accepted because children have to be subjected to abuse for these images to be created in the first place.

“You need to come to terms with the fact that you can’t do it, and it is harmful. It is probably not much good for you either.

“It needs to be pointed out to you loudly and clearly where the boundaries are.”

Smith was sentenced to a community order and was ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.

He was also subjected to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and will have to undertake an internet sex offenders treatment programme.