October 2016

Man’ who downloaded thousands of indecent images of children sentenced

A ‘family man’ who amassed a huge collection of indecent images of children and set up a fake Facebook profile to talk to underage girls online has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Mark Percival, 58, of Forest Road in Winsford, downloaded thousands of indecent images – some containing children as young as six – over an 11-year period.

His secret came to light after police raided his family home on November 3, 2015, following a police investigation.

Computer equipment – including hard drives and laptops – were seized during the raid, which subsequently revealed thousands of indecent images.

Police discovered 195 category A images – the most serious category – 158 category B images and 2475 category C images. These included still and moving images.

Further examination also uncovered an extreme pornographic image.

Thousands of images also went unchecked by investigators – though Percival admitted to investigators they did contain indecent images.

During a sentencing hearing at Chester Crown Court on Monday, October 3, the court was told the true figure was greater than 3,800.

The court heard how Percival admitted during a police interview that he had downloaded the images between April 2004 and November 2015.

Prosecuting, Jo Maxwell, said: “He stated during his first interview that he did not have a sexual interest in children.

“He collected images and saved them on discs and folders.

“They contained images of girls, some as young as six or seven up to teenage years.”

Ms Maxwell said Percival told officers he set up a fake Facebook account, posing as a teenage girl, around two years ago.

She said he would alter his persona – including how old he told others he was – depending on who he was talking to.

Ms Maxwell also said Percival told police officers he uploaded an indecent image to Facebook in April, 2014 at the request of another user.

Defending, Daniel Brooks said Percival’s ‘addiction’ was born out of ‘boredom and isolation’.

Mr Brooks told the court he used the fake Facebook profile to talk to other men as well as teenage girls.

He said: “He was living a life away from home in a very stressful job, living in hotel rooms.

“It started out of curiosity but became an addiction.”

Mr Brooks called Percival a ‘devoted father’ and a husband of 36 years.

He said Percival was remorseful and had described his actions as ‘abhorrent’.

Mr Brooks said Percival has overcome his addiction and has also abstained from any kind of pornography since November 2015.

He added that since the charges came to light he had begun working with The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, a UK child sexual abuse charity.

Percival pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent photographs and one count of possessing an indecent photograph at a previous hearing.

He also pleaded guilty to distributing and indecent on possessing an extreme pornographic image.

Delivering his sentence, Judge Nicholas Woodward said: “You have brought shame not only on yourself but on your family, but you have tried to deal with that in a positive way.”

He sentenced Percival to 10 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered him to take part in 35 days of rehabilitation.