Dark web user had abuse images of two month baby
A retired car salesman was found with hundreds of child abuse images which he had downloaded after becoming mired in the dark web.
Max Gardner used a dark web browser to seek out images using search terms which included Lolita and Pre-teen but left an online trail that led police to his home near Newton Abbot.
Some of the children in the images were babies who were only a few months old and there were 18 movies showing acts which amounted to child rape.
His arrest forced him to give up his job as a fleet sales manager and retire and he is now undertaking counselling and an online course to combat his interest in indecent images.
Gardner, aged 66, of the Wood Estate, Bishopsteignton, admitted three counts of making indecent images and was jailed for 16 months, suspended for two years by Recorder Mr Philip Mott, QC, at Exeter Crown Court.
He was ordered to receive one to one sex offender treatment with the probation service and made subject of a sexual harm prevention order which will allow police to monitor his internet use for ten years.
The judge told him:”The feature which strikes one about this case is the extremely young age of some of the children in the images. One is said to show a baby who was only two or three months old. Another shows a child of six to 18 months being penetrated.
“The extreme youth of the children is an aggravating feature, although I accept these images were a minority of the total.
“You got yourself mired into this so much you were seeking images from the dark web. You are 66, have no previous convictions and have shown genuine remorse and taken steps to obtain help.”
Mr Richardo Childs, prosecuting, said police searched Gardner’s home in June after receiving information about his online activity and seized a number of computers
He said there were a total of 62 images and 18 movies at the most serious category A and 871 images or movies in the lower categories B and C. There was also evidence of him using search terms such as Lolita and pre-teen.
Mr Childs said:”He fully admitted what having the images and using the dark web. He said he regularly destroyed and replaced his computers.
“He said he had no excuse and has sought rehabilitation with a charity that specialises in such offences.”
Mr Barry White, defending, said Gardner lost his job as a fleet sales manager as a result of these allegations.