September 2014

Man with large collection of indecent child images escapes immediate prison sentence

A pervert escaped an immediate prison sentence, despite amassing 1,979 indecent images of children over a three-year period.

When asked about the huge collection of material – both still and moving – found on his home computer equipment, Anthony McTearnen, 39 years old of Southland gardens, Shildon  initially denied being attracted to children, but claimed the “taboo” fascinated him.

Durham Crown Court heard that he later told police he still did not think he had a sexual interest in children, but conceded he may have been “in denial”.

Chris Baker, prosecuting, said it stemmed from a police visit to his home, in Shildon, County Durham, on April 28, when McTearnen was at work.

A large amount of electronic equipment was recovered including an encrypted external had drive, on which most of the offending material, spanning all three categories of severity for such images, was found.

McTiernan was arrested at work and, when first questioned, denied having any images before making admissions when further evidence was put to him.

Mr Baker said software on McTearnen’s computer equipment indicated use of the hidden or ‘dark net’.

A further folder, not subject of the charges, contained moving images featuring girls aged nine to 14, which Mr Baker said was “indicative of someone with an interest in young girls.”

He added: “So, the Crown is slightly cynical about his initial explanation that he didn’t have an interest in young children.”

McTearnen admitted 12 charges relating to the downloading or possession of indecent or prohibited images of children.

He also admitted three charges of possession of extreme pornography.

Judge Burn said given his previous good record and admissions, he could give McTearnen his “first and only chance” to address his problem in the community.

He imposed a ten-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, during which McTearnen must undergo probation supervision, including a year-long accredited sex offender treatment programme.

Restrictions were imposed limiting McTearnen’s future use of the internet and contact with children as part of a sexual offences prevention order.

He will also be subject to registration as a sex offender.

Both orders will run for ten years.