July 2016

Paedophile who hoarded indecent images escapes jail

A paedophile kept his “dirty little secret” from his family and hoarded thousands of pictures and films of children being abused, a court heard.

Married father Michael Stobbs was caught with more than 10,000 indecent images when police searched his home in Middlesbrough in April last year.

The 47-year-old narrowly avoided being locked up today when a judge told him he needed help to combat what he called his “perverted interest”.

He was given a 16-month suspended prison sentence with supervision and was ordered to sign on the sex offenders’ register for the next ten years.

Teesside Crown Court was told that Stobbs posed “little risk” of turning his fascination with the obscene material into actual abuse of children.

His lawyer, Robert Mochrie, said: “He has taken steps to seek some form of online counselling to try to help him with this bad habit he has developed.

“He hoarded all of these images on various devices while viewing them, and puts it down to something of a dysfunctional lifestyle within the family home.”

Stobbs admitted two charges of making indecent images of children, one of possessing a prohibited image and one of possessing extreme pornography.

Prosecutor Emma Atkinson told the court that 9,512 still and moving images were found on a Dell laptop, and a further 507 on a Samsung mobile phone.

Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC, told Stobbs, of Quay Street, Middlesbrough: “You are aged 47, you are married with children, and you had a secret, a dirty little secret.

“You were watching these foul images. You did so for your own sexual gratification. Your wife didn’t know about it, your children didn’t know about it.

“This is an offence that is not without victims. All these children on the images you watched, and gave you sexual pleasure, were real children.

“That’s why this is very much a crime with victims, and that’s why it has to be met with a sentence of imprisonment.

“I have to consider whether or not you are willing and able to carry out some counselling to rid you of what Mr Mochrie calls a habit – but it’s much more than a habit. It is a perverted interest.”