Abergele man posed as boy on net whilst running paedophile picture group
A North Wales man aged 32 posed as a teenage boy on the Internet while running groups which shared indecent pictures to paedophiles world-wide.
Michael Barrows had a number of accounts which he operated as a boy of 14 including his Facebook Account.
A court heard how on a Kik messaging app he said he was a 14 year old boy and tried to get a boy of 12 to send him a naked picture of himself.
Police acting on intelligence went to Barrows’ home and found he possessed and shared indecent images of child sex abuse.
Investigations showed that he was a member of internet groups which shared such images worldwide and he was the administrator of one of them, said prosecuting barrister Anna Price.
Jailing him for four years, Judge Geraint Walters said his was “a very troubling” case, which should act as a warning to young people never to put any compromising pictures of themselves on the web.
Barrows of Marine Road in Pensarn, Abergele, described as a shy man who had never had an adult relationship, was ordered to register with the police as a sex offender for life.
An indefinite sexual harm prevention order was also made.
He admitted ten charges involving making and possessing child porn, distributing an indecent image of the most serious category A and attempting to incite a boy of twelve to engage in sexual activity.
Judge Walters, sitting at Mold Crown Court, said he had not been in trouble before but had admitted very serious offences.
The images he downloaded were of children, mainly boys, being abused and some were very young.
“I don’t know whether you realise how serious it is,” he said.
The judge said he would look to see if people could be helped with their addictions.
“But you have gone way ahead of all that,” he said.
He had shared indecent material and belonged to groups on the internet, one of which he was the administrator, to get people to send images in return for what he had. “You were running it all,” he said.
His actions meant the images received the glare of being viewed by other paedophiles.
He had more than one account, including Facebook, where he pretended to be a youngster himself and incited a boy to send him a naked picture of himself.
Had he done so, no doubt it would have been distributed to other people. Young people, he said, should never be persuaded to upload any compromising pictures of themselves.
If they did, they were there forever and could get into the hands of people world-wide.
“Young people need to be alert to the fact that there are many people like the defendant who pretended to be youngsters themselves on the internet, to persuade them to put up pictures of themselves.
“It is a very serious matter.”
Barrows was a man of good character but his was a complex case.
Judge Walters said that he had no doubt been a shy young boy, maybe bullied, who had difficulties forming social relationships in childhood and in adulthood.
He had failed to have any adult relationship and had committed the offences in the privacy of his own home.
The defendant would present a significant risk to young people in the future.
His problems were deep rooted and the judge said he expected a plan would be put in place on his release for the safety of young people thereafter.
Miss Price said police found more than 3,000 indecent images, 536 of them at the most serious category A. There were 396 films, 202 of them at category A.
The defendant said that he first saw an image on Twitter, and while he was interested in boys of 13 he had to have images of boys considerably younger in order to exchange with others.
An examination of his two mobile phones showed images of children, mainly boys, from the age of two months to 14 years.
Five movies recovered involved sexual abuse of infants and toddlers.
Kim Halsall, defending, said that his client had already received counselling and had an appointment with a mental health nurse.
“He clearly needs intervention and help over the difficulties that have brought him here,” she said.
Barrows agreed that he pretended to be a teenager on the internet and it was not known what the ages the people he corresponded with were.
The defendant lived with his parents, had been a very nervous and shy child born with a clef pallet, who never really fully integrated.
He had difficulties forming relationships.
At 13 he became aware of his own sexuality but had never been able to find a partner.
Unfortunately he came across another person on the internet, “all this started and it snowballed,” she said.
He recognised that he had a problem and needed help.