September 2016

Pensioner spared immediate prison sentence after admitting child abuse images offences

A great-grandfather who secretly downloaded child sexual abuse images in all three categories of seriousness has escaped an immediate prison sentence.

Joseph Eckersley had vehemently denied the allegations, claiming his computer and PayPal account had been hacked, and the 73-year-old had been due to face trial next month.

But he eventually changed his pleas to guilty and was given a suspended prison sentence at Liverpool Crown Court today, Friday.

The court heard that police raided his home in Martland Avenue, Lowton, on May 14, 2014, and seized his computer equipment.

Analysis revealed Eckersley had indecent images and videos of children aged from about four to 14.

He had made folders to keep some of the images in, had software to remove his internet history and his computer contained ‘erotic stories involving children’, said Henry Riding, prosecuting.

Paul Becker, defending, said the retired electrical engineer is not in good health and has had to pay his own defence costs. “He is thoroughly ashamed of himself,” added Mr Becker.

Judge Alan Conrad said that pleading guilty to the three charges of downloading a total of 120 indecent images had saved Eckersley from going to prison.

He pointed out that the images ‘involved children somewhere in the world being exploited and are real victims’.

But he said he accepted Eckersley had now acknowledged the gravity of what he had done.

Judge Conrad sentenced him to nine months imprisonment suspended for two years and placed him under supervision for two years.

He also ordered him to pay £600 towards the prosecution costs, sign the sex offenders’ register for 10 years and made an indefinite sexual harm prevention order.